There was a homeless gentleman walking down the sidewalk in a large city when he noticed what appeared to be a Snickers Bar lying there. He bent over to pick it up and upon doing so the wrapper crushed in his hand. There was no Snickers Bar in the wrapper.

“Argh!” escaped his mouth, he threw the wrapper back down in disappointment, and began shuffling his way down the sidewalk. 

He took a few steps when another gentleman who’d watched the experience approached the man. 

“Are you hungry?” He asked. “Would you like a hot dog?” There was a street vendor just a few feet away so the man motioned to the homeless gentleman . . . “If you are hungry and would like a hot dog, walk with me, I’ll buy you something to eat.” 

The homeless gentleman looked puzzled for a minute and then followed the man to the hot dog stand. The gentleman purchased the hot dog and after a request for some ketchup, the recipient took the hot dog, looked at the donor and simply said, “Thank you.” 

There are so many times in our lives we are surrounded by people looking for something. They pick up something, grasp it, only to find that what they’d hoped would be there wasn’t really there after all. Then they continue walking through their lives disappointed. 

The man who bought the guy the hot dog struck me . . . 

There were hundreds of people on the sidewalk at that time, myself included. 

I watched the man pick up the wrapper, but I had no idea what he was looking for nor why he was frustrated. Yet, someone else just inches from me took in the situation in a completely different manner. 

There is something to be said for being attentive to the needs of the people around us. 

What if we each walked through life looking at one another with intentionality and curiosity instead of just assuming everyone has what they need? How might we be able to use the resources we have in our own individual lives to make a difference in someone else’s life? 

For that man that evening, overcoming disappointment and discouragement came in the form of a hot dog from a stranger. 

For the other man that evening, he saw an opportunity to love by noticing someone with an empty Snickers wrapper.

How might we be instruments of hope and promises for someone else today? That is the true gift that comes in the manger. The most generous gift of all that is given freely, without cost. Our way of saying “thank you” is by choosing to take what we’ve been given and give it back. Maybe we can each see some empty Snickers wrappers.