This is not a story of great drama, but it changed my life — perhaps saved it.
At 43 years old I was very ill with an undiagnosed illness for a few years. My family was deceased, my friends long gone and I saw no one but health care workers a few days a week. Of course the disability payments kept me going but there were no extras. I was discouraged, exhausted, and so lonely.
Christmas came, though it was unlikely that I would have noticed it except for the knock at the door one day. I didn’t recognize the woman who came in and handed me an envelope with my name on it then quickly left. When I opened it, five $20 bills fell out.
There was a typed letter that said:
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
The money was welcome, yes, but the warmth I felt that someone (I had not a clue who) was thinking of me and cared meant the most. The world shifted a bit for me. Maybe things would turn out alright, I thought.
That was 20 years ago. I am still sick, pretty poor, but I live my life with as much joy and color and passion as I can. And whenever I am able, I slide an anonymous card, sweater, or CD to someone who has found a deep bottom.
I do this with gratitude for the opportunity to try to give back all that was given to me in that one envelope, from that special heart.
[Story submitted by Kathy Johnson]
It was a busy Saturday afternoon just before Christmas. I was the third person in line at the cash register at Trader Joe’s in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The first person in line was an elderly woman who was having a pleasant conversation with the cashier while helping to pack her 3 bags of groceries. Behind her, and in front of me, was an athletic looking, middle-aged man. Just before the elderly woman retrieved her wallet to pay, the man struck up a quiet conversation with the woman and the cashier. When I saw the elderly woman’s eyes tear up as she gently patted the man’s back, I thought that I had witnessed an act of kindness and generosity. Once the man had left the store I asked the cashier to confirm what I thought I had seen: the man unexpectedly paying for the woman’s groceries. She told me that was exactly what had happened. We both expressed gratitude for having witnessed this kindness; and I reflected on this all day.
When I returned home my daughter Emily had just arrived from New York to celebrate the holidays. I was full of excitement and emotion when I told her the Trader Joe’s story, and she was just as moved as I was. Emily is hard to keep up with because she travels around the globe for a literacy project at Columbia University. She had just returned from Singapore so she was really raking up the frequent flyer miles that give her a shot at upgrading her seat to first class. I know it sounds decadent to travel first class but when you live in the air and in hotels, it is a great time to catch up on lagging sleep. When Emily left after Christmas, the Trader Joe’s incident stayed with her. When she got to Logan Airport to head for the west coast she was not even close to the top of the list for an upgrade but was given a comfortable bulkhead seat at the front of coach. Once she was settled in, a flight crew commotion that halted the boarding progress occurred when a woman in a wheelchair was being shuttled to row 25. Emily offered the woman her seat to be able to have more room and took the woman’s seat in row 25. After about 10 minutes had passed a flight attendant walked over to Emily in row 25 and offered her a first class seat.
I believe the positive energy created by the man at Trader Joe’s had an amazing ripple effect for a lot of people. Thank you to that athletic, middle-aged man in line at Trader Joe’s.
Story submitted by Susan DeLiddo
Photo credit: Scarlatti2004/Flickr
Living in poverty can generate stories of kindness, a certain quality of which—I imagine—cannot be experienced by even the slightly well-to-do. As a child, I was struck by my mother’s accounts of her family’s meager Christmases, which colored my sense of the meaning of the holiday. But for a middle-class, second-generation American child, those images—though lasting—could be, at best, a mere copy of the original.
We had a horrible house fire last October. Devastated, not knowing yet what, if anything, could be replaced or repaired, I posted the incident on my Facebook Page. Within an hour, offers of help, food, a place to stay, a car to drive, came in from many people (including our banker and insurance agent). All of them followed through with their offers. There are a lot of good people out there; sometimes it takes a near tragedy to recognize it.
Our house was repaired and new furniture delivered the day before Christmas, another miracle wrought by our out-of-work contractor friends, who also received a wonderful Christmas gift in the form of payment because of our insurance company and bank.
Without doubt, there are angels among us.
Story by: Kathryn Burke
Photo by: f2n_downtown
So I never pick up hitch-hikers as a rule. I don’t know what moved me to do so today. I was heading from North Platte to Brady and he was just outside of North Platte. He jumped in and said “thanks for stopping”. I said no problem, I’m going to Brady about 23 miles up the road, and I’ll take you that far.
As we were conversing, I noticed he reeked of booze. I also noticed his wrinkled, sun darkened face, his shoddy hair and clothes, unshaven face, and only the clothes on his back.
But what I noticed most was his piercing, large blue eyes. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and I believe it, if you look closely, you can pretty much tell the kind of soul a person has through their eyes. His eyes were almost indescribable. They were so mesmerizing, not an ounce of hate in them. Looking at his very rough exterior, I could tell he’d been down a very hard road. Somehow, despite the road he had been down, there was no hate in his eyes…only love.