Let me first be clear — I did not want to do it.

At all.

For one thing, it had just been given to me; and for another, I really liked it. A lot.

But there I was, waiting in a long line last December for my turn with the sales clerk. Three other parties were ahead of me, all of whom were in a huge hurry — until it was their turn. Then they were in no hurry at all.

The waiting gave me time to pay attention to the sales clerk, who was going out of her way to be patient, cheerful and helpful. But, she was tired. And, possibly, even sad. Her fatigue was etched into the corners of her eyes as she smiled. I could sense her smiling took effort, but she did not falter.

Finally, it was my turn! Before I could express my need, she blurted out, “Girl, I just love that bracelet you’re wearing! You gotta let me touch it.” Without missing a beat, she grabbed my wrist, rubbing her hands over the bracelet as she ogled it. “That is just about the prettiest bracelet I’ve ever seen.”

I thanked her and said I loved it, too. As I did so, I could hear that small voice prod me, “Give it to her.”

I dismissed that unwanted bordering on repugnant thought immediately, and proceeded to quickly ask my question. Once answered, I wished this pleasant woman a happy holiday season, and then rapidly moved in the direction I needed to go, all the while desperately trying to silence the now escalating inner voice urging me to part with my beloved bracelet, to which I was growing more and more attached by the second.

I escaped to the book aisle. As I reached up to get the paperback off the shelf, the strangest thing happened — my bracelet was knocked off of my wrist. Not an easy thing to happen. As I was putting it back on, the voice grew even louder, “Give it to her.”

Again, I dismissed that stupid thought and moved to the electronics section of the store. I had to lean forward to reach the back of the shelf so I could grab what I was looking for. When I drew my hand back with the intended item, I noticed that my bracelet had again come off.

Now mind you, in the many weeks that I’ve daily worn this bracelet — taking it off only to bathe and sleep — it has NEVER once come off. As I went to put it back on for the second time, I heard, “This is not meant for you. This bracelet is for her.”

Did I mention that I did not want to do it? I did not want to give my bracelet away.

But I trudged on wooden legs back to the home entertainment department and searched out the sales clerk. I found her in a heated discussion with a couple over a return. The clerk’s back was toward me as I waited patiently so I could reluctantly give her my bracelet. I guess my presence was irritating the couple, because the man finally turned in my direction and said, “Do you need something? Can’t you see she’s dealing with us?”

Hearing his irritation, the sales clerk turned around and our eyes locked. Without saying a word, I took her wrist just like she had taken mine and I slipped the bracelet on it. Our eyes met again and she said, “Say what?”

“Happy Advent and Merry Christmas,” I said.

Her hands flew to her mouth as she squealed and then she flung her arms around me, wrapping me in a squeezing embrace. When she finally let go, she said, “You have no idea what this means to me.”

As soon as I could talk past the lump lodged in my throat, I said, “Oh, but I think I do.”

I walked away swiping tears from my eyes. I have no doubt that I walked away on that Saturday with the more valuable Christmas gift this year. And I don’t even know her name.

It’s true — it IS better to give than to receive. At least, for me it was this holiday.

— Rosato lives in Mandeville

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