A few days ago, I had a meltdown of epic proportions.

Tears, crying, and, oh, did I mention the tears?

I was decorating my umpteenth batch of holiday cookies for the neighbors. I was simultaneously also preparing a dish to take to the Husband's holiday work lunch the next day. I had been up really late the night before working on client orders and was exhausted. I had laundry literally exploding out of the mudroom, crawling on its dirty hands and knees towards me, begging to be dealt with. I had kids to shuffle to baptisms at the temple. And there had been workmen in my house all day long.

I was almost at my breaking point.

With the timing of a hurtling bomb, a boy reminded me of something he needed at school the next day. Which meant yet another trip to Hades The Target.

Hiding in the bathroom, I dried my tears and took a deep breath. Gritting my teeth, and stifling every urge of protest my feet made, I grabbed my purse and we headed out.

I glared at everyone in my path. I felt no love for the season and wondered why in heaven's name all these people come out of their holes this time of year. I hurried through the store, grabbed what we needed, and headed to the checkout. Shifting my weight from foot to foot, I sighed with impatience. Mentally counting out all that I still had to do this week, I felt the irritation seep out of my every pore.

Finally it came time to pay, and I gratefully prepared to leave.

As I was digging in my purse for my keys, I glanced up and noticed the girl in line behind me. She was short on money and was having to decide which items to take out of her bag.

Instantly, all my irritation melted away and I actually looked at her with kinder, softer eyes. Instead of seeing her worn coat and thin sweater, nails chewed down to the nub -- I saw something else. I saw a sister, younger than me, struggling to pay for her Christmas gifts. Gifts, it appeared, that were for young children. Having been there once myself, compassion flooded over my body like a warm blanket.

I felt like absolute crap. I had been whining and complaining over what, in the right perspective, are no real problems at all. I had momentarily gotten caught up in the material needs of the season and forgotten the meaning behind it.

With tears in my eyes, I reached into my purse, pulled out all the cash I had, and slid it across the counter towards her.

Merry Christmas, I said, and then walked away.

Much happier and more grateful than when I had come.

[I tell you this story not to brag of my good deeds or seek your praise. I tell you in case you, like me, needed a reminder of the good that can be done if we will just look. Look through different eyes at those around us. There just may be some that we can help. ]