This is a short story I wrote several years ago and have been led to re-publish each holiday season with the hope that the Lord will move mightily in people’s hearts as He did in my own when He gave me the story to write. I hope you might consider passing it along….
CRAZY MAN IN THE POST OFFICE
Crazy people always stand out from the crowd, don’t they? This one did, alright. I couldn’t help but notice him. The post office might have been jam packed with people holding on for dear life to their remaining patience and arms piled high with holiday season packages, but the crazy one drew my attention more than anyone else. Barefoot. In winter. Simply dressed. No coat. No impatience like many of the others. No smile either. A sadness, actually. Soulful eyes. He wore his heart on his sleeve. He was weighed down by some sort of tragedy. His shoulders sagged. And he didn’t even have the weight of so many packages to pull his body down, not like all the others did. He had no packages at all. Not even a letter to mail. I watched him carefully, wondering what he would do. What was he standing there for when he didn’t have anything to send?
Nobody else noticed him from what I could tell. They didn’t seem to see him. But then, they were busy. Chatting about the Happy Holidays season. Discussing recipes. Some laughing. Some staring at their watches. Some grumbling over the length of the line. How long, they mumbled to one another, would they have to stand in this line? Before returning to their Happy Holidays shopping. So they could come back to the post office and stand in line all over again to send off more gifts to celebrate the Happy Holidays. The crazy man looked over at them standing in line from time to time. He didn’t say a word. He just wore that sad expression on His face. Then he walked over to a corner, found himself a simple wooden chair, and sat. I wondered again why he was there.
Then the whispering started. Whisper, whisper. Whisper.
“Honey,” a woman dressed in a bright red Happy Holidays sweater with pom poms that looked like snow balls whispered to her little boy who was dressed in a bright green version of his mother’s sweater. “Stay close to me, okay? Santa will give you an extra Happy Holidays present if you’re good, okay? Don’t go near that man over there.”
The little boy looked over at the crazy man and smiled at him. The crazy man smiled back. The woman tugged her son closer to her side.
“What’s he doing in here?” a man said under his breath to the man standing just behind him. “He doesn’t even have shoes on, for heaven’s sake.”
“Homeless,” the other man mumbled in return before looking back at his watch. “I have a Happy Holidays party to get to, this line better start moving.” Mumble. Grumble.
“I know all the homeless people around here, I don’t think he is,” the first man muttered back. “My wife makes me give them our leftovers. If I try to argue with her, she threatens to take away my golf clubs.”
The other man sighed in resignation. And commiseration. “Wives,” he sighed again.
“Baby doll,” a woman whispered to her daughter. “I want you to stay away from that man over there, okay?” The woman tugged at her daughter’s big red hair bow before she redid it all over again to make it look pretty and perfect just like of course it should be.
The little girl looked up at her mother with big sad brown eyes. “But mommy, mommy – ”
“No cupcake, please don’t argue with me. I know what’s best for you. Let’s mail these Happy Holidays presents and I’ll take you to the ice cream parlor, okay? Now help me hold these packages. Everyone will be so delighted with their presents.” The mother smiled down at her daughter to reassure her. “You can have an extra scoop, dear.”
“Why are you giving everyone presents if it’s not their birthday?” the little girl asked her mother aloud, forgetting to whisper.
The little girl continued to stare at the crazy man in the corner, and she couldn’t help but smile at him. She would have waved at him, only she didn’t want to get her mother angry with her again. Her mother wanted her to stay focused on the Happy Holidays season, and to help decorate the Happy Holidays tree, and to prepare her lines for the Happy Holidays play at school. She wanted to be a good little girl, but she sure did want to go over to the crazy man in the corner and say to him what was sitting right on the very top of her huge heart.
“Stop staring, dear,” her mother said, grabbing her daughter’s hand and jerking her forward in line.
Just then, three little girls, two little boys, and their mother came bursting through the post office door. Everyone in line looked over at them.
“Happy holidays! Happy holidays!” the mother called out to everyone in the post office line before she rang a big Happy Holidays bell and gave everyone a big, perfectly white smile. Then the children began to sing. In perfect unison of course.
“Happy holidays! Happy holidays!” Then they walked through the line with chocolate flavored candy canes and handed them out. People smiled. People said thank you. People moved forward in the line.
Then the children walked over to the man in the corner to give him candy canes, and the mother gasped. “Oh no! Oh no! Children, come stand in line with me.”
The children knew to obey, so they did. They smiled sadly at the crazy man in the corner and went to stand in line with their mother and all the others. Everyone stood in line together with their Happy Holidays presents and the watches they kept looking at and their rush and hurry to move forward so they could get to where they needed to hurry and rush to so they could rush and hurry along once more.
One of the children turned to another and said quietly enough for his mother not to hear.
“How come mommy doesn’t recognize him?”
Several of the children who were with the little boy answered in unison.
“Mommy’s too busy, that’s what she always tells us these days, doesn’t she? She says it’s the Happy Holidays season.” The children all nodded together in agreement.
Then the line moved forward. The people carrying packages moved forward. Everything moved forward. Even the children. Because the children weren’t allowed to walk away from their parents. They all had to stand in line because it was the Happy Holidays season, and because they weren’t allowed to go talk to the crazy man in the corner.
After some time, when the line began to dwindle, and the packages had been mailed, the mothers with their children walked out of the post office with big, bright smiles and empty arms and plans to go get hot chocolate and go ice skating and then get ice cream and go to Happy Holidays parties and celebrate the big wonderful Happy Holidays season.
Several mothers left the post office together as their children chattered among themselves, looking forward to when the Happy Holidays season would all be over and they could get back to just being children without all the rules and regulations and responsibilities of helping their mothers stay happy for the holidays.
One little girl managed to slip off from the little crowd just long enough to run back into the post office without any of the mothers noticing. She opened wide the door, cruised right through, and skipped over to the corner where the crazy man still sat.
She looked up at him with her great big brown soulful eyes and watched the man as a single tear slipped slowly but steadily down his cheek.
“I’m sorry they forgot about you, Jesus. I just came back to say I love you.”
He reached out to her with His hand, and she would have taken it if her mother’s voice hadn’t cried out through the doorway of the post office and drawn the attention of everyone standing in line.
“I told you to stay away from him, honey pie. Now let’s get going. We have the Happy Holidays to go celebrate, dear.”
Jesus smiled at the little girl.
She smiled back at Him before her mother rushed through the post office and dragged her away.
“I love you too,” whispered the crazy man in the corner of the post office jam packed with people sending off packages to celebrate the Happy Holidays season.
Then Jesus wiped away His tear and wondered if anyone but a small child would ever recognize Him again.