Good Tidings of Great Parking Places–a shoppers guide to everything meaningful at Christmas.

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Last weekend I headed across the border to celebrate Thanksgiving with my youngest son.

Well, that was the plan.

I anticipated long walks through the woods with the dogs and time to read a few good books.

So, how did I end up driving like a crazed woman down to the Premium Factory Outlet in Marysville, Washington?

I guess the part about the United States being the home of the free and the home of the brave finally got to me.On the biggest shopping weekend  of the year, I figured it was time to fight for my right to save money even if I had to spend my last dime to do it.

After over an hour of driving on back roads and another 15 minutes on interstate 5, I eagerly joined about another forty million, billion people looking for a parking space at the mall. 

Obviously, the odds were against me. But, I kept on cruising down the endless rows of parked cars. 

Then, it happened.

A young couple pushing a baby stroller returned to their car. Right. In. Front. Of. Me.

I put on my signal and waited. 

Just when the other car was ready to pull out, one of those big, shiny don’t-mess-with-me  pickup trucks stopped on the other side of the departing car and put on it’s blinker. I waved to get the driver’s attention.

He ignored me. 

That’s when I knew it was a stand off. To the death. I didn’t have a chance.  So, instead of dying a noble death or at the very least surviving a horrific crash, I drove away.

Disappointed?

Well, guess what, I did find another parking space a few minutes later and farther away from the beckoning land of wonderful bargains.

Well, maybe not so wonderful.  The rain pelted me as I jostled my way through the outdoor walkways between stores. My head ached as I pawed through clothing items on racks and strewn on floors by other frenzied shoppers. After picking out a few items that matched my Christmas list, I just wanted to leave.  

By the time I found my car and maneuvered my way out of the parking lot, I felt like muddy sales flyer stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe. Perhaps,  I would have lost every last bit of Christmas joy if it had not been for the phrase that popped into my head. 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound”

The words seemed odd at first, out of place with the harried world of retail shopping. But it’s cadence soothed me in a way that I had never experienced before.

Even though these words had been penned centuries ago to exiles returning from captivity in Babylon, they were also prophetic, foretelling of salvation to come.

That’s the real truth of Christmas- the coming of the Messiah, not just to Bethlehem but to crowded malls and parking lots filled with frenzied shoppers. 

Good tidings of great joy.

Healing.

Liberty.

Freedom.

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