It’s been 35 years yet I still remember as if it were yesterday, heading out on a snowy cold day with my brother Todd to find a Christmas tree. It was the day before Christmas and Todd and I decided to scour the car, floor, and couch for spare change. With less than a dollar in our pocket, we began our trek to the Dairy Queen, the best place in town to buy trees.
When we arrived, a big burly man named Jug walked up and said, “How can I help you?” We explained that we came to buy a tree. He asked how much money we had and my brother held the change out in the palm of his hand. “Hmm…” the man said, “I think I have the perfect tree for you.” He walked away and came back with the largest tree on the lot.” Todd and I screamed in joy! Each grabbing an end of that big old tree, we walked back home to show our mom.
It’s difficult to write this story without tearing up because the memory is so alive in my mind. I know it’s the same with my brother who is now 45. Consider your own power- to make a difference in another person’s life. You could be the catalyst to a memory that sticks in someone’s mind for a day, week, month; or perhaps like Jug, a lifetime.
Now an adult, with children of my own, I can relate to what Jug must have experienced. It probably tore at his heart to see two kids, who had walked a couple miles in the cold, with just a few coins in their pocket- believing they would find the perfect Christmas tree. He didn’t have to give it to us- he could have made up some excuse or simply told us to come back when we had a few more dollars to spend. Yet he chose to make a difference.
Last month I took my kids to Urbana, where I grew up. Driving past the cemetery we decided to pull in. “I want to show you something,” I said. I pulled up to what is now Jug’s gravesite, and tears fell from my eyes as I saw his name inscribed in stone. I told my kids about his amazing generosity to me both when I was a child of 7 in search of that tree and later again in life as a teen of 15 in search of a job (he hired me to work at the Dairy Queen). This man, no longer alive will forever be present in my heart- his single random act of kindness played out in my mind over a lifetime. He probably had no idea what kind of impact he made on my life and that is what makes this story so special. He gave from the kindness of his heart, when no one was looking, because he could. What about you- can you do something unexpected for someone today?
If you like my stories and musings, join the Get Your Girl Back movement and follow my blog at www.gygb.com.
Written by Traci Shafer Bild