‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

As a child, I loved “The Night Before Christmas” because it so beautifully conveyed the magic and wonder of the Season. It instilled great anticipation and excitement and fed my belief in the spirit and generousity of Santa.  These nights before Christmas were truly delightful.  Such sweet memories…

Over the years, I confess, that luster has faded some.  Like many, I’ve grown tired of the commercialism, the exploitation of the birth of Jesus to sell more loot along with batteries that make the loot run, the endless advertisements that can drown the meaning of it all.  Humbug!  If it weren’t for the kids in my life, I’d probably head off the islands and come back when it’s all over.

I heard a story on NPR this morning that lit the reminder that there continues to be substantial meaning amidst all this electrical surge and tinsel.  That part of me that wants to believe is still here.  That is a good thing.

It’s the story of “Secret Santa”.  As I understand it, some three decades ago a young man was broke, homeless and hungry in Kansas City, when a stranger did a kind and generous deed.  The cook in the KC diner reached down and pretended to pick up $20 and handed it to the young man we now know as Larry Stewart, the original Secret Santa.  “You dropped this”, said the cook, and in that one gesture, did far more than feed him that day.  He restored hope and dignity and spawned a magical, joyful phenomenon of anonymous giving on the streets at Christmastime.

Larry Stewart apparently amassed a fortune, and as he did, he made good on his vow to give back.  So for all those years until he died in 2006, he anonymously went out on the streets of Kansas City at Christmastime, identified those in need and “quick as a flash”, they had cash and he was gone.

This is the gift that keeps on giving, apparently.  Now there are “Secret Santas” all over the country.  Mysterious, generous strangers that give away hundreds of thousands of dollars to people just trying to cover the basics.  What a twenty dollar act of kindness has started is truly magical.

To be able to give to those in need is such a gift to all. Is it really more blessed to give than receive?  The answer is yes.  But it’s all blessed!  I’ve worked in non-profits, I have raised money for those in need.  I have been fortunate to be on both ends of giving and receiving, and I can attest:  it’s ALL amazing.  Try buying coffee for the person in line behind you and notice what happens.  Everybody lights up!  Last week, I had someone do something similar for me.  I was short on change and was going to have to use my credit card at the cash register.  This beautiful soul behind me said “I got it”!  I was embarrassed and said “I’m sorry to be holding you up”.  She said “I’m in no hurry; I’m just in the mood to be kind”. “Let me get it for you”.  Everybody in line lit up; and I cried!

It was not about the money; it was about the kindness of a perfect stranger.

And the magic that seems to come at Christmastime.  Is it magic or is it kindness?

Are they one in the same?

Do you believe?  I do, once again.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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