Written by Kelle Watson, M.A.LPC, Director of Mental Health Counseling
I have always found Christmas to be magical. I still do even though I am far from being a kid anymore. It seems magical things happen that there is no explanation except that it is Christmastime.
One Christmas eve as I was walking by the front door, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and no one was there but there was an envelope taped to my front door. It had no writing on it. I looked down the walkway and driveway and saw no one. It had snowed recently and the path was shoveled so I didn’t see any footprints. There was no car pulling away. There was nothing but an envelope filled with money taped to my front door. Inside was $100.00. Who gave me this generous gift? As Christmas came and went I asked everyone I knew but it was still a mystery who left me the gift at my door. How did I not see them walk away? Did they ring the doorbell and run into the night so I wouldn’t see them? Why weren’t there any footprints in the snow? Where was their vehicle? Did they pull away with the headlights off? I never had any of these questions answered and after 15 years I still don’t know. What I did know is that my family was struggling financially and apparently so did the person who left the gift at my door.
Another Christmas Eve many years prior I was walking by the front door and the doorbell rang. It was a neighbor that lived up the street and he was dressed as Santa with a bag of presents. Ironically, this man dressed as Santa was not a very nice person. In fact, he yelled at us if we kicked a ball on his lawn and we knew to stay away from him. We never went to his house for Halloween or to sing Christmas carols. We rarely saw him outside his house as he didn’t seem to want to interact with anyone. He had no wife or kids or family that ever came to visit him but here he was Christmas eve at my door with a sack full of gifts pretending to be Santa. My brother ran up and quickly chose a toy from his bag and went off to play with it. I looked up at him and said in rather loud disbelief, “You’re Mr. Brown”! “No, little girl, I’m Santa”. I insisted, “You live 6 houses down in that white house with the long porch! You’re Mr. Brown”! “You are mistaken, I am Santa”, he said, then quickly added, “Here I have a gift for you”. He handed me a tea set anxiously hoping to deflect both my question and recognition of him. He then began to leave but turned around and looked at me rather confused. As he walked away I said, “Thank you for the tea set, Mr. Brown”. He didn’t respond and I watched him walk off into the snowy darkness. I really didn’t mean to blow his cover. I was just being a kid. I appreciated the kindness that he tried so hard to disguise under a Santa suit. Now, as a counselor, I look back and conjecture that maybe he couldn’t reveal his kindness unless it was hidden under a cheap white beard. Maybe his yelling at us to get off his lawn was because people had been mean to him and that is all he knew how to do. Maybe he didn’t have any relationships in his life because he had been so hurt by people and had given up shutting himself off in that white house with the long porch. Whatever the reason, still there he was standing before me Christmas eve with a gift at my door.
One reason why I love working here so much is that is what we do at Catholic Charities. We reach out to people like him everyday. We see through their disguise of pain or anger and help them where they are at with what they need at just the right time. The amazing thing is we don’t wait until the magic of Christmas time. We do it each and every day.
This Christmas both professionally and personally let’s reach out to those around us who are hurting, lonely, and need a hand. It could be a smile to a neighbor, or holding open a door for a young mother with a stroller, or being kind to someone who is in the military thanking them for their service, or being extra kind to a cashier working the holidays, it could be picking an angel off a tree and buying a stranger a present, it could be throwing your spare change in a bucket next to a cold bell ringer, it could be helping someone older put their groceries in their car, it could be tipping the hard working waitress something extra or paying it forward in a drive thru, it could be volunteering at a church or soup kitchen, or it could even be reaching out to a grumpy old man who lives down the block appreciating that underneath their facade there is a human being who is just looking for some human contact. Maybe this Christmas you can be the gift at someone’s door.