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Pass on Christmas kindness

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Would that every week contained more good tales than bad – and that we would recognize and honor them. Perhaps it is the season. We’re obliged to pass on the tiny candle flame of good will when we accept it for ourselves.

I told you recently about a stranger who paid for our meal at Italian Oven. The place was not crowded, so it was easy to see almost every other diner while we were there. We didn’t recognize a soul, and no one we know has hinted about it. Such a nice gift at Christmastime.

Did it seem to you that more people than usual were just plain more helpful? We’ve accepted more strangers holding heavy open doors, then losing their own place in line by doing so.

While searching for a pair of shoes at Stein Mart last week, I heard a man’s voice calling my name. Turning around, I saw no one I recognized, until he turned and came right toward me.

“You must be Sallie,” he said. “Yes,” I replied, and he handed my wallet to me. A quick glance and I realized nothing was missing. I had left it on one of the racks of men’s jackets.
While my driver’s license and credit cards are the only things of value that I keep in it, the loss of I.D. and sorting things out with the DOT alone would have made for a horrible holiday week. Thank you, Stranger, and God bless.

Not to be outdone, Dave chalked up a similar scenario on the 23rd, when he left his credit card and social security card at the Kroger pharmacy checkout window. He had not even missed it when one of the employees called to tell him she had it.

He was the hero in a similar story at Atlanta Bread in Fayetteville. A tall man dropped a loaded wallet when he went for his beverage. He had not even missed it when Dave handed it to him.

And would you believe I lost our car in Walmart’s parking lot. Dave was waiting in it while I ran in to get a watch battery. I had taken note of which row we were in when he dropped me off, but when I came out of the store, the little Toyota Echo had gone invisible.

A young woman got out of a car nearby and started straight toward me, asked if I was all right and could she help. Usually I brush off such offers, but on this cold day, I had been on my feet too long and my back was behaving badly. I think I’d have taken any help offered by anyone.

We are often embarrassed to ask for or simply accept help, feeling that we would look weak, I suppose. More likely they were seeing a dotty old lady clutching her shoulder bag.

Anyhow, after waving to the young man with her, she started looking for a dark-green Toyota with a new license plate that I had not yet memorized. And a driver who typically forgets his cell phone.

Within a minute, the two young people found the car six parking spaces up the line, waved to let me know, then went on their merry way, responding to my “Merry Christmas!” with “Happy New Year!” of their own.

Before I wrap this up on a high note, let me list the objects that have eluded us for too long. Might as well take advantage of my public pulpit.

First the serious things: my pretty candy-apple-red cell phone with no special features. I am very certain it is here in the house, but if so, where? I tried “calling” it, to no avail.
And my short white denim jacket. I “see” it on the back of a chair in a local eatery, just can’t “see” which eatery.

Then my paycheck, gone three weeks now, and one of the three wise men in the family crèche.

And Dave’s notebook. For as long as I’ve known him, he has carried a leather notebook in the breast pocket of his shirts and sweaters. He notes the weather and temperature, where we are if not at home, a few critical addresses and phone numbers, doctors’ appointments, whatever. For over 50 years.

Mary makes this her Christmas gift to him each year, so he will have a new one from Germany, but the loss of the 2011 edition has hit him hard.

Last and best of all, this vignette: Tom Lau died shortly before Christmas. He was a long-time member of our church, a quadriplegic who parked his electrified chair in the sanctuary most Sundays at 11.  

There was, at his request, to be no memorial service, no funeral, just cremation and to be buried with his parents in another state.

On the Sunday when the sad news of his death was announced, a little girl about three years old was seen slipping into the back of the sanctuary carrying a white rose. She placed it in the spot where Tom usually sat in his electrified chair.

His family says they don’t know who she is, nor do the pastors and anyone else we’ve asked.

If anyone finds out who she is, I don’t want to know. I’d rather carry the picture in my mind of a little girl with a white rose.    

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