Mr. Grump's Christmas Cookies

It was a Christmas tradition I never enjoyed—delivering a plate of Mom’s Christmas cookies to Mr. Grump. No, his name wasn’t actually Mr. Grump but that’s what he was to me. He never smiled and rarely spoke, so why did we have to give him a plate of delicious cookies?

Sitting in the back seat, my job was to hold them while we took the obligatory drive to the other side of town. I kept my hands on either side of the plate, steadying it as we took the hairpin turns up his muddy driveway. His house always looked the same—peeling yellow paint and a rickety fence around the perimeter.

Mr. Grump was one of Mom’s library patrons. Every day he’d arrive just as the library unlocked its doors so he could be the first to read the Seattle Post Intelligencer. He’d sit at the same table for the same amount of time and then neatly fold the paper. He walked everywhere he went, so in order to read the morning paper he’d already traveled three miles—rain or shine.

As far as anyone knew Mr. Grump didn’t socialize—but who’d venture to talk to someone like him? Mom did. She always greeted him as she unlocked the library door. Mom helped Mr. Grump find books of interest and in so doing, was able to find out where he lived—because he used his library card.

I’m not certain why Mr. Grump was added to our Christmas Cookie List, but here we were again. We walked up to his door and Mom knocked. From somewhere inside we heard Mr. Grump holler, “Just a minute.”

The door opened and Mom smiled as she handed him the plate. “Merry Christmas, Henry.” Peeking around Mom I watched his scowl soften just a bit. He grumbled his thanks and we walked back to our car. He stood at his door as we drove off.  I never found out why Mom cared about Mr. Grump. But he knew she did. Maybe those cookies helped soften his stony heart.

Turn on the news and see the riots, bitterness, and bloodshed. It’s enough to harden anyone’s heart. But this is the season that proclaims peace, hope, and love. 

There are lots of hurting hearts that could use a plate of Christmas cookies. It’s a simple act of kindness, but maybe it could bring enough peace, hope and love to soften a few stony hearts and help heal some broken ones.

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