I Believe.

The world can be a cynical place. It is easy to lose sight of  the magic of this season as we rush, overextend, overbuy and become overwhelmed.

I am as guilty of this new-age celebration of marketing as anyone else. I worry about the number of presents we will have under the tree. I place my love squarely inside a box with a bow. I believe that my ability to provide what is desired is linked to my success as a parent. Will we disappoint them? How much is enough? How much is too much? Stuff. Things. Shiny, sparkly want. I wander through stores, doing math in my head. I don’t see the magic. This is not a lecture. An intervention in an envelope arrived in the mail. Something amazing happened to my family. Here is my Christmas Story. My, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.”

This year has been difficult. We have struggled. We have made difficult decisions. We struggle to make ends meet. We stretch our dollar and creativity as we hurdle through. We have watched our savings shrink and our debt increase. We are in an ebb. We hope for the flow.

During this, we have done everything in our power to keep the children unaware, though stress always leaks into the home. Children always know. We have been home more. They are small. They don’t understand why they can’t participate in classes with friends. They ask for experiences outside of our reach. We have to say no. They are starting to ask less. We are finally settling into a new normal.

This year, my husband and I sat down to delicately discuss Christmas. What would we do? Which credit card had the lowest APR? How would we pay it off? We argued about who was going to go pick out the stuff, things and shiny, sparkly want.

Yesterday, a simple envelope arrived. Red, addressed to our family, begging to be opened. Our last name was misspelled. There was no return address. I opened the envelope. Inside was a card. The front simply said, Merry Christmas. I opened the envelope to discover one hundred dollars and the following message:

Someone once did something nice for me. It’s my turn to pay it forward. Merry Christmas.

As the moment poured over me, I felt shock, joy, humility and gratitude. I knew that something incredible was happening. I believe. I believe that I was lost. I believe in the goodness of people. I believe that I want to create a new legacy of giving. I believe in moments of grace. I believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the spirit of gracious giving in all of us. I believe in second chances. I believe in magic. I believe.

To the unknown Santa who chose our family, you have given us so much. For the selfless kindness, for the magic, for the perspective, thank you. We will not forget your reminder of the true meaning of giving. For gifts that money can’t buy, thank you. And, thank you for the gift of the simple sentiment we look forward to passing along:

Someone once did something nice for me. It’s my turn to pay it forward. Merry Christmas.

“Christmas magic is silent. You don’t hear it — you feel it, you know it, you believe it.” – Kevin Alan Milne (The Paper Bag Christmas)







Comments

  1. Thank you. Hugs, Cyn
    A.D.D. Music Mamma

  2. What a beautiful post, and what a beautiful sentiment. We’re doing the same number-crunching at my house, trying to spin wishes from thin air. I have to consciously remind myself that neither my success nor my kids’ happiness rests on the number of pretty boxes under the tree – and although it’s an easy thing to *know*, it’s a difficult thing to *believe*. Love and hugs to your family – you deserved a Christmas miracle.

  3. What a wonderful story! Thanks for posting something so personal and touching. It inspires me to seek out those in my community that might need help at this time.

    • Thank you, Kim. I can tell you that they will benefit from much, much more than the dollar amount. It changed or whole perspective on this holiday season. I am so grateful to this stranger and I hope their kindness starts a chain effect of love and giving. Thank you for reading.

  4. Anonymous says:

    🙂 Merry Christmas!!

  5. That is so beautiful! It makes even this jaded cynic believe. Happy Holidays!

  6. That is fantastic…I am in a similar position. Single mom, no income, can barely pay bills, definitely nothing left for christmas. While I know presents aren’t the important thing it sucks knowing I can’t do that for my kid. It’s fantastic to read about such kindness from a total stranger. Great story. Merry Christmas.

  7. Thank you so much for this!!! We struggle so much in the winter, as my husband is a chef @ a seasonal golf resort, & I am a s@hm. Every year we have to get an advance on our tax returns to be able to give our three girls the Christmas they deserve. There are so many past due bills that we should pay w/ our advance, but our girls’ happiness means more to us than paying the phone bill or the countless others that go unpaid in December. It is so easy to lose sight of the real meaning behind the holiday, this is true, but when we look @ the sparkle in our girls’ eyes on Christmas morning as they look at all of the beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree, I know that I am witnessing a magical moment. I am witnessing children that have not lost their belief in magic & miracles. To my husband & I that moment makes putting our responsibilities on the back burner for one month all worth it:)

  8. Thank you so much for this!!! We struggle so much in the winter, as my husband is a chef @ a seasonal golf resort, & I am a s@hm. Every year we have to get an advance on our tax returns to be able to give our three girls the Christmas they deserve. There are so many past due bills that we should pay w/ our advance, but our girls’ happiness means more to us than paying the phone bill or the countless others that go unpaid in December. It is so easy to lose sight of the real meaning behind the holiday, this is true, but when we look @ the sparkle in our girls’ eyes on Christmas morning as they look at all of the beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree, I know that I am witnessing a magical moment. I am witnessing children that have not lost their belief in magic & miracles. To my husband & I that moment makes putting our responsibilities on the back burner for one month all worth it:)

  9. A lovely post–thank you & MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

  10. Your writing is beautiful, as always. It is so sad that while Christmas is supposed to be the epitome of magic and giving and spirit and grace, that those are all too often the things that get pushed aside and remembered last (or not at all) because they have been overshadowed by the “shiny sparkly”.

    One thing you can know for sure is that you will appreciate everything more this year because you’ve had to work hard to get them. It seems that things or accomplishments that come easily are always under-appreciated.

    I love your story. God bless the person that payed it forward. I hope you ALL have a Merry Christmas.

    • Thank you for reading and sharing your throughts here. It was a beautiful reminder what this season is all about and I feel blessed to be able to share that here with all of you. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  11. Anonymous says:

    This truly is a beautiful story about a beautiful sentiment from a beautiful heart. It restores my faith in humanity. At a time where we can get lost in giving for all the wrong reasons. May we all find a way to “Pay it forward” this year; no matter how small the gesture. Happy Holidays and live to all.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Love to all 😉

  13. Last year we moved 3000 miles from all our friends and family for my husbands job. We had to declare bankruptcy in order to get out from under our house and credit cards. There was no way we were going to be able to go home for Christmas! Our friends and family made it possible to fly home. This year we are in a way better position. A friend of mine sent out a plea for her sister. She is going through a divorce, lost her job, and has 3 kids. They can barely put food on the table:( It was my HONOR to be able to pay it forward. I try and live that motto everyday! BTW I think we are twin souls. I come from a family of 4 girls and my B-day is also July 8:)

  14. Sometimes our biggest blessings come from the most unexpected places. Sometimes it is a red envelope with a misspelled last name, sometimes it is through a computer screen via an incredible friend. I told you that I was gonna read and that I was gonna cry. True words. YOU are one of my biggest blessings. Love you, love this. xoxoxoxoxo

  15. Anonymous says:

    I read this story and got teary eyed. We have been going through tough times for the past few years and have been waiting (not so patiently) for times to change. Two Christmas’ ago, we got a similar card in the mail. Even today, I have no idea who sent it, but if our luck ever changes I will be sure to pass on the kindness that was given to us. I hope your Christmas is a very blessed one!

    • Merry Christmas to you and yours. I will hope for great things for both of our families in the New Year. Being on the receiving end of this gift was magical. I imagine being on the other end will be just as magical, if not more so.

  16. This story warms my heart! Much needed this time of year, when it is easy to believe in the worldly “things and wants” and not in each other! You have restored just a little hope, and help me to want to do the same!

  17. Simply amazing. Thank you for sharing!

  18. This is lovely 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming story!

  19. This post, and the comments, have finally given me what I’ve been waiting for…the Christmas spirit. God bless that anonymous person, and every other person who has such a good heart. Merry Christmas!

    • The Christmas Spirit is really the greatest gift of all. I can say that now, without hesitation. Thank you for reading, Gigi. I’m so happy this anonymous giver has touched so many. The gift that keeps on giving.

  20. Lovely post. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    I am thankful that this year my family was able to donate items to a mom and her girls, who would not have had presents under the tree if not for the help of strangers. I will never know her exact thoughts nor see the look on her daughter’s faces, but reading your post makes me so happy that I was able to help out, just a little bit.

    The magic of Christmas is powerful.

  21. I love this story. May a thousand moments of good karma get re-visited upon your Secret Santa. And enjoy! Sounds like the timing was perfect.

  22. Love it! What a blessing to have someone help you in this way!

  23. You hit a nerve, lady! Our family spent the past several years struggling and worrying about money after we had enjoyed a brief period of prosperity during the “boom years.” It was tough saying “no” to camps and various other activities the kids had previously been able to participate with, and watch them try to be understanding. I felt so badly when I offered to get my daughter a hot chocolate and she would ask, “Can we afford that?” or my son would ask if we could afford for him to play high school sports. The holidays were the hardest time, as we weren’t able to get the kids as many presents as they had had in previous years. But we survived and I think it made us a better family. My kids no longer put as high a value on material things. Last year my son sold us his old iPod Touch for a few bucks so we could give it to his little sister and said that all he wanted for Christmas was my husband’s old desk speakers (which he got). So it was a re-gifting Christmas and they were thrilled with their gifts. (And my daughter didn’t even care when her friends got brand new iPod Touch for the holidays.)

    Thankfully, my husband just started a new job with better benefits and a better future. We’re not out of the woods yet but things are already looking better and this Christmas we are able to enjoy the season more without worrying about where next month’s mortgage payment will come from, or what to do when the kids need new shoes. I am giving a little more to charity and providing a little more support to community fundraisers because I am so thankful that life is giving us new opportunities. I spent the past two years telling my family, “I know things will get better soon!” and desperately hoping it would be true.

    So, yeah, your post kind of made me weep. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story here. I understand. Perfectly. I am thrilled to hear things are on the upswing for your family. It’s hard to always remain grateful, but, it looks like you all did that during the tough times. Enjoy your Christmas, your family and may the New Year bring continued improvement. I loved reading this. Merry Christmas.

  24. Beautiful post and that is what this season is all about giving back to others paying it forward. Thanks for posting this and reminding us all exactly just that!!

  25. This is so gorgeous and such a wonderful story to share during this holiday season. Love this and am so touched by the gesture of paying it forward. Merry Christmas indeed! 🙂

  26. When I read about this I got tears in my eyes. I am so happy for you. And so happy that the spirit of Christmas lives on. 🙂 Merry, Merry Christmas!!!

  27. what an amazing story!! Truly, Santa does exist!!

  28. This is such a beautiful post and it makes me believe there are good people in this world. Thanks so much for sharing. I hope this helps you make Christmas a little extra special for your family.

    xoxoxoxox

  29. This is so fantastic! There are still people out there that will pay it forward, which makes me all warm and fuzzy when 10 minutes ago I was sitting here feeling all BAH HUMBUG-y. This couldn’t have happened to a better person. So happy for you. 🙂 Devan

  30. That’s awesome! I totally like the kind of anonymous mail you get way better than the kind I get 😉

  31. “I place my love squarely inside a box with a bow.” Beautiful writing.
    I’m so happy such a wonderful thing happened to your family when you needed it the most. And thank you for sharing it. I know you’ve inspired others. You did me. Tonight, instead of giving my sons Hannukah gifts, we wrote a check in their name to someone who needed it. The kindergartner didn’t take it so well but it’s a lesson we’ll be glad we taught him down the road.

  32. So lovely. The past couple of days have felt pretty dreary, and your story of kindness truly lifted my spirits. Thank you for sharing.
    Merry Christmas!
    Amy

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