And as they waited, the exchanges between the two went something like this: “she expects to get ... he will be disappointed if he doesn't get ... we are running out of time to get”... etc., etc. Obviously, their anxiety was focused not only on getting, but getting it right, and getting it very soon. Time was of the essence.
Then their worst fears came to fruition. Things were grinding to a halt at the counter. An elderly lady was 25 cents short on a purchase, and was frantically looking around for her husband to help out, but he was nowhere in sight. She started to contemplate what to give back for the shortfall, but couldn't quite make up her mind, to the noticeable chagrin of the couple behind me.
At this point, I reached into my pocket and plunked down a quarter on the counter in front of the lady in distress. The most beautiful smile on her face said it all in ways that words can't describe. It was only 25 cents, and didn't exactly put a big hole in my pocket, but it felt like she had given me a million in return.
Then on the way out, to my surprise, there was the same lady standing at the door next to her husband. She reached out and gave me a shiny new quarter, and again, with that same unforgettable smile.
As I walked to the car, I realized we had exchanged gifts, so to speak. Obviously not much in material terms, but so much more in sharing a moment in the true spirit of giving at Christmastime.