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A Christmas Story -- Un Cuento Navideño by Lili Nealon
 

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  • I had plans to have a wonderful day with the family, and the plans started to become unraveled, myself along with them. I had the wrong tickets to a Christmas show and now I sat at the box office, the show sold out, wrong tickets in hand!

    I felt nervous and anxious and upset and troubled and not in charge of the outcome. Life or fate or destiny was trying to take apart what I had so carefully put together. I sat by the box office for over an hour, waiting for it to open. Box Office staff were less than receptive to my plea.

    My youngest kids, checking with me on the phone, took their usual approach to their mom, “it's going to be OK: “relax, you’ll live longer”, my son said. My daughter encouraged me, telling me to “take them on, be the one I used to be, and get it done.” I took their advice, and presto! solved the “problem.”

    Still nervous and quite off, I decided get myself a cup of coffee before meeting up with the family. And that’s when I was stopped along the way by an angel, there to teach me a lesson.

    It was snowing, a very wet and heavy snow, and I was not dressed for it. My hair was wet, my gloveless hands freezing. Something else to be upset about. Walking fast, the angel, dressed as a homeless man, called out to me about the color of my boots, which matched my phone, “in case I hadn't noticed it”. I hadn’t. As I smiled back he said: “hey, would you be my mom for the holidays?”. I mumbled something in return, hurrying to get my coffee and be on time for the show.

    At Starbucks, I bought him a hot sandwich and a cup of coffee. Approaching him on the way back, I told him that I could not be his mom for Christmas, but had brought him some food. He smiled.

    Then he said: “Is it OK if I give you a hug? I really need one today!”. I had a split second of hesitation, of pausing. Hug a smelly homeless stranger? But I went for it, giving him a hug and allowing him to hug me in return.

    Just like that. My troubles were nothing. My kids would be hugging me soon without my asking; my home warm, the Christmas tree ready, food in the fridge, money in my pockets. No need to ask a stranger for a hug.

    It brought to mind my favorite bible passage, where Martha is busy in the kitchen instead of sitting down at Jesus’ feet , like her sister Mary. It was a time when Jesus himself really needed the company of friends. “Martha, Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing” he tells her. Only one thing is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it’s the main course, and it won’t be taken from her.”

    And I wonder: this holiday season, am I Mary or am I Martha?


    Tenía el dia programado, y mis planes empezaron a desmoronarse, y yo con ellos. En mis manos, boletos equivocados para un show de Navidad que iba a compartir con mi familia. Parada frente a la billetería, desesperada, el show completamente vendido, no sabiendo lo que hacer.

    Me sentía nerviosa y ansiosa y enojada y descontrolada. La vida o el destino estaban tratando de deshacer lo que yo había programado tan cuidadosamente. Me senté al lado de la billetería por mas de una hora, esperanto que habran. El personal no tenia ganas de ayudarme.

    Mis hijos menores, por teléfono, me alentaban. Uno me decía que "todo va a salir bien, relajate, así vivirás mas tiempo". La otra me alentaba diciéndome que "lo tomara en mis manos, como siempre lo he hecho, y que lo resolviera". Seguí sus consejos, y terminé con los boletos en la mano, resolviendo my "gran problema."

    Aun nerviosa, sali a tomar un cafe. Y fue en ese momento que me interrumpió un angel, que apareció para darme una lección.

    Nevaba, una nieve mojada y fria, y yo no tenia la ropa adecuada. Mi pelo empapado, mis manos sin guantes heladas. Algo mas para hacerme enojar. El angel, vestido de indigente, me gritó que le gustaban mis botas, que hacían juego con mi celular, "por si no me había dado cuenta." Le mandé una sonrisa y con eso me preguntó: "no queres ser mi mamá para Navidad?". Sin tiempo para contestarle, seguí apurada hacia el café.

    En Starbucks, le compré un café y un sandwich caliente. Al acercarme nuevamente al ángel, le dije que aunque no podía ser su mamá para Navidad, le había traído algo para comer. Sonrío. Se puso de pie y me preguntó:

    "Está bien si te doy un abrazo? Verdaderamente lo necesito hoy!" Por un segundo vacilé, pensando en ese hombre sucio y oloroso. Pero rápidamente me acerqué, dándole el abrazo y permitiéndole que me lo devuelva.

    Así nomás. Mis problemas se evaporaron. Mis chicos me esperaban con abrazos que no necesitaba solicitar, my casa acogedora, mi arbolito de Navidad listo, comida en la heladera, dinero en el bolsillo. Nunca senti la necesidad de pedirle un abrazo a un extraño.

    En mi pasaje favorito en la biblia, Marta está muy ocupada en la cocina en vez de sentada a los pies de Jesus, como su hermana Maria, en un momento cuando Jesus verdaderamente necesitaba amigos. "Marta, Marta, te estás preocupando demasiado, y haciendo problemas por pavadas" le dice "Solo una cosa es esencial, y Maria lo ha elegido -- es el plato principal, y nadie se lo va a quitar"

    Y en esta epoca de Navidad, me pregunto: Soy Maria o soy Marta?
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