Oy. Today was hopping busy. Hopping. Not that we mind. But it was hopping. Anyway, this woman came in. I've never seen her before, but she had a sweet face, lined, a weary face, really. Her hands were as calloused as any man's hands I've ever seen. She was a farmer, and she smelled of barn, and cows, and sweaty hard work.
She bought some farm supplies, but she also bought a horse, a Breyer horse, Christmas edition, a sparkly, spangly collector's item. "Oh, this is pretty," I said, holding it up to get a better look. "I imagine some little girl is going to be thrilled to pieces on Christmas morning!" and she smiled, and for a moment her face was not weary. "My granddaughter," and she picked up her bags. "I've got to get home. I got chores to do, and I need to hide this in a good place first so's that girl doesn't find it."
I repeated that I thought her grand-daughter would be thrilled with it, and thanked her for stopping in. I watched her. I don't believe that she's any older than me, but she walked out the door with the steps of an old, old woman. I watched her thoughtfully. She was buying a thing of beauty for her grand daughter's Christmas, hiding it in a secret place. I imagined her taking it out to smile at it and imagine the coming Christmas. I found myself saying a little prayer for her, hoping with all of my heart, that there was someone in this woman's life who bought beautiful things for her, and hid them away thinking how delighted she would be to receive them, this hard working woman with the thick yellow nails and the calloused, dirty hands.