I love the Christmas season. Despite the flurry of activity, the chaos of deadlines, I can still feel the hopeful, loving spirit that accompanies the Yuletide holiday. And for one month we connect as human beings with a collective heartbeat and become more giving – giving gifts of time, love and compassion.
Years ago, I came across a story, written by an unknown author. I’d like to share my version of that wonderful tale with you today.
You know, he almost didn’t see the old lady. She was waving frantically, her Mercedes stranded on the side of the country road. He pulled in front of her car, his pick-up truck sputtering as he got out.
She stood there shivering and clearly very worried.
“I’m here to help you ma’am,” he said with a big grin. “My name is Bryan. Looks like you’ve got a tire problem.”
“Yes. Can you help?”
“Sure can. Why don’t you wait in the car while I fix it for you.”
“Oh thank you young man,” she said and quickly stepped inside her vehicle.
Bryan went to work, pulling out the jack and spare tire from the trunk. He crouched down beside the flat tire and began loosening the lug nuts. He dropped to his knees on the frozen mud and gave the tire iron an extra tug. His hands began to hurt, but he kept at it.
She lowered her window and started talking to him. She told him she was passing through on her way to visit her daughter in the next State. She’d waited for over an hour for someone to stop and help. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.
Bryan smiled as he closed her trunk.
“How much do I owe you?” she asked.
“Nothing ma’am,” he said. He never thought twice about the money. He had simply given a helping hand to someone in need, just as others had helped him in the past.
“Surely there is something I can give you that would make you happy,” she said.
Bryan paused and spoke at last. “I bet you’ll come across someone who’ll need some help, particularly at this time of the year. You know, when you help them, just think of me and that’ll make me happy.”
He waited until she started the car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home.
A few miles down the road, the lady stopped at a dingy diner with two old gas pumps out front. She went in to warm up before the last leg of her trip.
The very pregnant waitress came over and poured her a mug of hot coffee. She had a sweet smile, a smile that even her weary body and sore feet could not erase.
“You look bone chilled,” she said. “I’ll bring ol’ Betsy here. She’s our portable heater. She don’t give off much heat anymore, but she’ll warm up your toes a bit. Can I interest you in some hot homemade soup?”
The old lady nodded yes. She was once again grateful for the kindness shown by a stranger. She thought of Bryan.
Later, when the waitress came to check on the lady, all she found was four one hundred dollar bills carefully tucked under the empty soup bowl. Scribbled on the napkin was the following note:
“Thank you for your kindness. Someone helped me today and I want to help you. Please accept my gift. Merry Christmas.”
A tear rolled down the waitress’s cheek as she picked up the cash. How had the lady known how hard it was for her and her husband right now? That night when she got home from work, she snuggled next to her husband on the sofa and whispered in a soft low voice, “Everything’s gonna be all right. I love you Bryan.”