David Bruce: Don’t Fear the Reaper — Christmas


• In Kansas City, Missouri, a man known as Secret Santa passed out gifts of money during the Christmas season for over 25 years. That man was Larry Stewart, a millionaire (due to his cable television and long-distance telephone service) who revealed his identity after becoming seriously ill. He began giving away money in December 1979 after losing his job the week before Christmas — the second year in a row that happened to him. He was at a drive-in restaurant. He remembered, “It was cold and this car hop didn’t have on a very big jacket, and I thought to myself, ‘I think I got it bad. She’s out there in this cold making nickels and dimes.” He gave her $20 and told her to keep the change. He said, “And suddenly I saw her lips begin to tremble and tears begin to flow down her cheeks. She said, ‘Sir, you have no idea what this means to me.’” Mr. Stewart went to his bank, withdrew $200, and drove around looking for people to give it to. Mr. Stewart said, “That’s what we’re here for — to help other people out.” He died in January 2009, after reportedly giving away $1.3 million as Secret Santa. Remarkably, a new Secret Santa appeared and gave away gifts of money at Christmas, including a gift of $2,000 to retired police officer Herman Smithey III, a terminal cancer patient. Mr. Smithey said, “Around here, the word we use is ‘miracle.’ And that’s what that was.”

• Following a snowfall of several inches some years ago, Eugene R. Gryniewicz asked his two sons, Joshua and Christopher, who were then in junior high school, to shovel the sidewalk, steps, and driveway, and then he would give them their allowances. After a while, he checked on them because they had not picked up their allowances, although he knew that they had planned to go to the mall with some friends who were stopping by. Investigating, he discovered that they had shoveled several sidewalks, and not just that of their own family. Indeed, some of their friends had joined them in shoveling sidewalks. However, his investigation showed that they had not approached the home dwellers to negotiate payment. One home was that of an elderly woman who took care of her bedridden nephew. Mr. Gryniewicz returned home, and soon his sons and their friends showed up. He invited everyone in for hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls, and one of his sons’ friends showed him a copy of the message that they had been leaving on the doors of the houses whose sidewalks they had shoveled: “Your walk has been shoveled by the Christmas Elves. There is no need to thank us. Do something nice for someone this week. Merry Christmas. The Elves.”

• A person who goes by the moniker Anwahs knew a crotchety elderly man who lives near him. One winter, someone went to the elderly man’s house and cleared his driveway, using the snow to make a row of smiling, waving snowmen. Because the elderly man was crotchety, he complained about the “trespasser” who had made the snowmen. Anwahs’ son, however, did not know what the word “trespass” meant and thought that it must be a good thing. He was impressed by the snowmen, and exclaimed, “Wow, sir, that’s the biggest, bestest present I’ve ever seen!” He then asked Anwahs, “Could we have someone ‘trespass’ on our lawn, too?” The old man smiled, and the next day he left a Christmas card outside Anwahs’ front door, and he left a plush snowman as a gift for Anwahs’ son. Anwahs writes that “if I ever find out who made the snowmen on [the old man’s] lawn, I will be sure to send them something in return. They gave my son, myself, and our neighbor “the biggest, bestest present ever!”

• Lisa Bendall has a friend named Derek who is a flight paramedic in central California. She says, “He literally saves lives in high-stress, heart-pumping emergency situations. If it sounds like a glamorous job, Derek assures me that it’s both underpaid and underappreciated.” He has worked in this job for 17 years and thanks are rare. However, in December 2010 Derek visited a Starbucks, and a big Texas wearing a cowboy hat was in line with him. They started talking, and when the Texan found out what Derek did for a living, he paid for Derek’s coffee as well as his own. He also told Derek, sincerely, “Thank you for your public service.” The Texan then wished Derek “Merry Christmas” and left. Derek says, “It’s the first time anyone has ever done that kind of thing for me. I realize it wasn’t about him buying me the coffee, but all about what he said.” Derek also says about the good deed, “I believe I will have to pay it forward.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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