“Is that your mail?” the little girl asked.
I was in a hurry. I had chugged through several tasks already that morning and now I was late for another meeting.
I jumped into the car and roared around the corner to drop one lonely piece of mail into the mailbox. As I drove, I thought through all the things I hadn’t gotten done yet — phone calls, emails, a newspaper column. How on earth was I going to find the time?
It was a bright, sunny day and if I had been paying attention, I might have noticed that it had finally turned a little cooler.
As I pulled up beside the mailbox and put the car in park, I saw the back of a small figure huddled against the cool breeze, almost blocking my way to the mailbox. I had to step around the little brown hooded jacket to open the mailbox and drop the envelope in.
As I turned to go, still lost in my own concerns and just the tiniest bit exasperated, the little girl smiled, “Is that your mail?”
Shocked at the brightness of her eyes, I stammered, “Yes, it is ….” She quickly replied, “A lot of people send their mail from here. Have you noticed that?”
“Why, yes,” I said, “I see a lot of cars stop here so people can mail letters and ….”
“I mailed a letter to Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday from this very mailbox,” she said proudly. “I sent my grandma a letter and a picture and a drawing she can put up on her refrigerator. Thanksgiving’s gonna be here soon and I don’t want my grandma to believe I won’t be thinking about her on such an important day.”
“Is your grandma in Atlanta?” I asked. She nodded her head.
I said, “I’ve never really been there, but I hear it’s nice.” “I’ve never really been there, either,” she said, “but I sure hope I get to go to my grandma’s for a Thanksgiving someday.”
“Well, I know your grandma is gonna have a great day when she gets that letter you sent her.”
I turned to go and then thought to ask, “Are you all right waiting here?” “Yes, the bus will be here in a minute to take me to school.”
I nodded, and as I opened my car door, looked over my shoulder to say, “You have a Happy Thanksgiving!” She waved and called out, “Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!”
There are so many ways to divide up the people of this world: by age, race, gender, class, just to mention a few. With a few simple words, this little girl had reached across all of them and invited me out of myself, taught me once again to notice the ways love speaks across the miles and across the divides.
I hope her grandma appreciates the gift she gets in the mail. I know I am thankful I showed up there at the mailbox that morning, because that’s when the real holiday season began for me, announced simply but emphatically by the expectant questions and the bright smile of a young child.
See you in church or synagogue or mosque.