Christmas at the Lobby

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Look. You don’t have to be a Jesus freak to love Christmas. I think we all know that.

But JUST IN CASE you ARE a Jesus freak...or just in case Jesus is, like, your BEST FRIEND…well then, this is for you. Merry Christmas. I hope you two are having a blast.

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Christmas at the Lobby

Today I learned that if you want to pop into Hobby Lobby to check out the 50%-off Christmas items, and you invite Jesus along, it is NOT going to be a short trip.

Jesus starts getting wound up as you cross the parking lot. He tells you that the Salvation Army woman is His Father. You snicker and say – sarcastically –

“Your dad is an old woman with corn rows and an ear bar?”

J just laughs and says, “Give her a buck.”

You rummage around in your purse for a dollar and shove it into the little red bucket. You look at her, straight in the eyes, and she smiles. Suddenly your chest feels kinda tight and your heart starts to thud-thud-thud.

You turn to discuss this with Jesus, but He’s already off through the front door. You have to hustle to catch up.

THE PLAN is to look at the sale items and get out – quick. But Jesus keeps insisting that you slow down and look at the people.

He makes you look at the old woman using her cart as a makeshift walker, leaning on it HARD as she shuffle-shuffle-shuffles along.

He points out two Hispanic women engaged in a rapid-fire conversational exchange that ends with peals of laughter. They grab each other as they howl. Their laughter is contagious, and you laugh too -- and you don't even know what they're laughing about.

And the children! Geez, There’s not a kid in the place that Jesus doesn’t stop for.  Even the loud one clutching a king-size Hershey bar and yelling YOP-YOP-YOP over and over and over again as he hops from one foot to the other. And the pink-clad one with messy brown spiral curls down her back who is hitting A-Above-High-C as she grabs things from the shelves as fast as her mother can pry them from her fat little fingers and place them back.

At the fabric counter, Jesus makes you give your spot in line to the woman with three bolts of fabric, and then He insists that you speak kindly to the clerk, who is painfully slow. You do what J asks, but you’re a bad sport about it. (You complain to Him about the clerk.) J says something – you don’t quite catch it all – something about 68 years old and on her feet all day.

Finally, you’re traipsing along behind J when He stops abruptly, causing you to smack right into Him. “Dude,” you mutter, “a little warning next – ”

You stop mid-sentence because He’s looking intently at something down the aisle. There’s a stout little boy standing in front of a display, shouting to his mother,

“Mom. MOM. MOOOOM. HEY-MOM-WE-GOTTA-BUY-THIS!!!”

You move down the aisle to see what the boy is looking at.

It’s a white gift bag.

And the gift bag says, in bold black letters,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS.

You look at the boy looking at the bag, face upturned, eyes lit up  – and right there in the middle of Hobby Lobby you start to cry. You don’t know exactly why.

J is looking intently at YOU now.  He flashes you a smile and says,

“Merry Christmas.”