by William F. High
What is one of the most underappreciated jobs? I travel enough, and the big thing these days is for hotels to offer you a “free” breakfast. Well, that free breakfast means that someone has to get up by 4:30 a.m., arrive at the hotel and begin setting up—mainly a lot of pre-made stuff to which no pride of chefdom is accompanied. There’s a lot of cleaning up of dishes, picking up oatmeal goo still left in bowls, surrounded by still sleepy guests too busy to notice.
But magic happened to me recently. In one of the hotels I stay, I came across Diana, the breakfast hostess. She’s short, with raven hair, flashing eyes, and a strong accent. She hustles around the little breakfast area and in her broken English busts in on conversations of business-focused guests. Somehow, she makes them smile and she laughs—heartily.
I noticed, and I asked Diana: “What makes you so happy?” She told me, “I just happy.” And I asked what brought her to this country, and at that her eyes darkened, “My sister…she is sick.” A debilitating disease. So Diana picked up, left her homeland to serve her sister and her family.
I had to leave, and Diana was off to another customer anyhow. But on my next visit in town, I needed breakfast and there was Diana again. Still moving fast, still smiling, still laughing—so I caught up to her and asked her, “How is your sister?” It had been a couple of months since I’d seen her and she didn’t remember that I knew her secret. “How do you know about my sister?”
And then she remembered, “Ah yes, you asked the last time.” She brightened again and told me she was doing well, and skipped off. As I gulped down my breakfast, I couldn’t help sense the nudge, and I pulled out a bigger bill for a tip—bigger than the pre-made buffet breakfast meal deserved. I called Diana out of the kitchen and pressed the bill in her hand. “God bless you for taking care of your sister. Thank you for giving,” I said.
Her breath shortened, and her eyes moistened as she fanned her face and choked, “I’m going to cry.”
As I left there, I couldn’t help but think the gift deserves the gift. Diana’s sacrifice, her energy in serving, the smile, the laughter deserved a response.
And as I write now, here at Christmas, I cannot help but think of Jesus. He left a home, left his Father, left what was comfortable to serve in a place among bleary-eyed, inattentive travelers. But even still, He served, He touched, He healed and He brought joy to a darkened world. Oh today, even today, the gift, His gift, deserves our devotion, our attention, our gift. Christmas.