This is my story about kindness from a stranger. Although there has been so many people that have shown me kindness over the years, this kindness from a stranger moved me beyond words. I have three small children who were all under 8 at the time. I was a single mama just starting my photography business. I was not very good, I did not have a lot of clients, I had no money, and no child support coming in at that time.
My father had saved his change all throughout the year and gave me the jar around Thanksgiving. I was going to cash it in and buy Christmas presents for my children. Well this year that jar was stolen from me. I was so afraid and ashamed to tell my father that I didn’t know how I would have a Christmas for my children.
My boys had asked for big boy bikes for Christmas. I knew that I would not be able to afford two bikes and presents for their little sister. So I explained to them that maybe Santa would only bring one bike on his sleigh because he wouldn’t be able to fit two for them, because there would be no room for the other children's toys on the sleigh. I explained to them how lucky they would be to get even one and how fun it would be to share.
Unfortunately after that jar was stolen I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do that. Instead, I went to Kmart and I picked out a few little things per child and I put it on layaway. I saved a little money, and right before Christmas Eve I went to pick it up.
I went to the back of the store to turn in my ticket and was waiting for them to bring the items up front. There was an elderly gentleman there and I remember thinking, "I wonder what his story is? I wonder what he does for the holidays?" I’ve always, always, invited someone to our table that I didn’t know that didn't have a family. For some reason this man just touched me by his presence.
So I began to chat with him I asked him about his family - he didn’t have any. I asked him about his friends he said - they were mostly gone. So I invited him to Christmas Eve he declined, but very graciously. By then I excused myself and went to the restroom. When I came back the kid behind the counter told me my order would be right up. He said "Thank you and have a Merry Christmas." I said "No, no, I have to finish paying it off I have my money right here." He said "No you don’t, Merry Christmas."
I said "No you don't understand, you have me confused. I haven’t paid my whole bill I only left a portion of it when I put everything on layaway." He said "It’s been taken care of." I said "why?" He said "Someone paid your bill and said have a very Merry Christmas. You don’t owe us anything." Right then my eyes welled up and I couldn’t believe someone would be so kind.
I kept badgering the poor teenager to tell me who it was. I told him the story of how one of my boys wanted a bike. How my gift jar of money was stolen and now since someone had paid for the other gifts for them I was able to get them a bike to share.
By this point I was bawling, you know the ugly cry, I was just so overwhelmed. I went straight away to pick up a bike for my boys and a few minutes later there’s a tap on my shoulder I turned around and it was the older gentleman I was speaking to before. I looked down It was a $100 gift card. I said "No, no, no give that to someone else, someone just did the nicest thing for me." He started to smile and right then I knew... I said "It was you, it was you, wasn’t it?"
He just smiled but would not answer yes or no. I said "Why, why do you do this?", He said "I do it every year. I come in and I pay off somebody’s layaway. That’s what I was here this morning to do. Then when I heard your story afterwards and you crying, I thought wow that’s pretty impressive that your little boys would share a bike and not fight. I thought to myself you must be raising them right and it reminded me of how my folks raised me."
"So please take this to bring home two bikes and give your kids a great Christmas."
Of course as you probably can tell now I’m sobbing, I begged him to please come to dinner on Christmas Eve. He said "No". I said, "What can I do to repay you?" He said "Enjoy their smiles and keep raising them to be humble, this world needs more of that." And so I am.
Through our struggle we learned strength and resilience and to be grateful for it all. For now I share this with you, I share my story of unparalleled kindness by a stranger." - Michelle