I had the privilege of staying at the Hampton Inn in Collierville, TN in December of 2009. The hotel was clean and had a comfortable bed. Nothing special but no complaints. The privilege was a certain employee at the hotel.
Throughout the week-end I heard her greet people and wish others a great day. You could tell she truly cared how people were doing and hoped they had a day filled with joy. I don’t think she was striving for a good customer service award. I don’t think she was trying to excel in her job. Compassion, joy, and friendliness were obviously pouring from her heart.
The last conversation I heard was between she and a guest. She said that Christmas is all about family and love and spending time with family. She added that Christmas is also about Jesus and that she is so glad He was born. She has figured out that her purpose in life is to love others, regardless of where she is or what she is doing. She has eternal hope. My heart was blessed as I heard her words. This girl who cleans at the Hampton Inn was not afraid to greet busy guests. She was not apprehensive about wishing them well. She allowed the joy of Jesus to shine through her.
I decided I had to tell her what a blessing she was to me. I was busy trying to get out by my check-out time. I packed my car and realized I had not seen her again. I decided it was not meant to be and was going to return the cart and leave for Birmingham, AL. As I entered the hotel foyer, I looked through the glass door. Crossing the lobby was the Collierville Christmas Angel. I told her what I witnessed throughout my stay and how much I appreciated her light and eagerness to spread joy. She asked me what my name was and I said “Kim.” She said that my name was pretty. I asked her name. She said “Janelle.” I told her that her name was much prettier than mine, but see what she did? I’m telling her how much I appreciate her, and she finds a way to uplift me…a stranger.
Collierville, TN has a Christmas angel at the Hampton Inn. Her name is Janelle. I will never forget her. Let Janelle inspire you to find joy in all you do. When you are working, tired, or weary, remember the example Janelle set and reach out to uplift someone else. Most of all, this Christmas remember the words of the Collierville Christmas Angel and enjoy your family, share love with others that come your way, and allow Jesus to shine through you.
Janelle reminds me of the beginning of Mary’s Song in Luke 1:46-49:
“And Mary said:
‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.’”
Chaplain Kim Crawford-Meeks, revised 12.10.18
kim crawford 2009