Dressing fragrant boughs with twinkle lights, sparkling adornments, and shimmering striped candy canes galore, we gather once more to usher in the winter holiday.
Delectable fares appease appetites a plenty with steaming mugs of richness warming us through, we partake of fruitful fancies. Still, might we remember others braving this sometimes unforgivingly brutal season?
With sideboards lined with trays of fresh baked goodies and blessings of foil wrapped packages heaped beneath festive trees, let us recall those in greater need. Somewhere there’s a fatherless family who might adore the touch of glowing lights strung across the eaves of their home - or a family whose matriarch will no longer bake her famous cobblers and Santa shaped sugar cookies made just for them.
Somewhere there’s a waitress striving desperately to make ends meet whom would be ever grateful for an extra gracious tip, or an overworked clerk taking overtime to simply buy little Johnny a winter coat.
Imagine if we each took pause from the harried bustle of our shopping and jovial feasting to reach out to lonesome widows, isolated neighbors set to spend Christmas alone, or those confined to the hospital or miserably bedridden - what a bountiful season could truly be for everyone near and far.
Imagine the wonder of an anonymous crimson floral arrangement sent to an unsuspecting soul, or the astonishment of a goody-packed basket mysteriously delivered to a needy family.
What better way to celebrate the splendor of this coveted spell than to amaze and awe someone?
There’s an apropos folktale that comes to mind, written by Aaron Shepherd, adapted from laws set in place by King Henry III in the 13th century that some of you might find familiar. It goes something like this…
A woman happened upon a bakery requesting a dozen cookies, receiving just this many and not one more. With dismay she proclaimed the baker’s heart small and his fist tight with greed, regardless of how honest he might be. With that she refused the tasty package, telling him he’d soon be humbled, and then given chance once more to be more charitable.
Believing her mad, the baker continued on his selfish course only soon to discover his wares growing inedible by the day. The bakery soon grew barren of patrons for his greed had borne no fruit, leaving his pockets void and his cupboards slight.
A year passed, when the baker had a dream of Saint Nick offering presents from an ever giving basket ... never running dry regardless of how many gifts were presented to the crowd. Standing there but a boy himself, the baker was offered one of his very own cookies. When he peered up to give thanks, smiling down upon him was the lady whom he had faced the season prior.
The next day he rose with new appreciation for the point the lady had once made, baking plentiful cookies for his shop. To his surprise his first patron was that very lady once more requesting a dozen cookies.
Rather than merely offering her 12, he added one more. Pleased with her ‘baker’s dozen,’ she proclaimed great reward over him for his reformed ways. The proclamation came to pass, as the bakeries profits did flourish ever after.
You see, in his giving, the ways of the entire town, then colonies far and away were transformed, as soon everyone followed suit in serving 13 whence a dozen were purchased. Greed no longer held them prisoner.
May we each consider the baker’s generosity this Christmas season and beyond.