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I made the dreaded trip to the Mall Saturday afternoon. Every store was filled with long lines and harried retail workers. I crashed into more than one person conversing on their cell phone. It was after 2 hours of traipsing from one end of the Mall to the other, that I espied a kindred spirit. She looked like she needed a hot cup of tea as much as I did.

Her face was pasty white except for her flaming cheeks, and her hair was static-filled and stuck to her lipgloss. Her bulky, black coat was tied loosely around her waist. In one hand, she carried an assortment of coloured plastic bags, the handles stretched from the weight of their contents. She dragged a large tube of turquoise, snowman-printed wrapping paper along the floor behind her. Shoppers of all ages, turned to stare at this weary woman as she stumbled along, the joy of the holiday obviously drained from her spirit.

I stopped to stare at her as well. Here we were – surrounded by glittering and velvety decorations of rich colour, and children squealing with delight while the sucked on sticky candy canes (they had obviously just been to see Santa). The sounds of the Salvation Army bell ringer delicately clanged in the background in contrast to the holiday tunes blaring from every store front. This woman had come to buy gifts to bring joy to her family and friends, but she was without it.

I stopped to stare at her as well, before something urged me to move forward and invite her to join me. We needed to savour a cup of tea, and once invigorated, to once again take in the sights and sounds of a magical season. It was only as I moved toward her that I realized…I was looking at my own reflection.

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