My Favorite Christmas Gift

By Jason Curtman • December 4, 2016

I have received many Christmas gifts over the years. I remember many of them, from the tape recorder I received from my dad in 1975 to the black ebony guitar my wife gave me several years ago. The best gift I ever received was presented to me by a stranger. I never even knew his name and I only had contact with him for less than 60 seconds. His Christmas present to me changed the way I think about people and about Christmas.

I hate Black Friday sales. It's often a gathering of people who are there for many different reasons. Some are looking for a deal on that one item for their loved one, or perhaps themselves. Some are looking to snatch up the entire pallet of 50 inch televisions that normally sell for almost a grand but now are marked down to the unbelievable price of $249.99. Their intentions are completely unrelated to the festive time of year, and can merely be summed up with one word, "EBay!"

It was several years ago when my wife asked me to meet her at the local department store on Black Friday morning. They had advertised a child's bike that she wanted to purchase for our son. We stood in the isle way with a very large crowd, waiting for the manager to blow the whistle, signaling his employees to cut the shrink wrap off of the merchandise laden pallets. After a while the whistle blew. It was like throwing a bucket of chum into a tank of sharks. I knew this was going to happen. I told my wife that if we obtained a bike, fine, but if we did not, I was OK with that too. I was not going to be one of those people whose picture was going to be plastered on the front of the newspaper in conjunction with the headline story about some poor sap who got into a sprawling floor fight over a child's bike. It was not going to happen.

As the pallet of bikes began to gradually decrease in size, I saw my polite opportunity to wrap my hands around the corner of one of the boxes. I lifted it off the crate and suddenly felt some mild resistance. I looked up to see one of the largest gentlemen I had ever seen in my life. Intimidating was not the word to describe his presence. He was adorned with numerous straps of metal spiked leather around both arms and even his neck. Tattoos were an obvious passion of his. He looked like he enjoyed bobbing for tackle.

I started to relinquish the box but he gently pushed it back in my direction and back into my hands. He then directed it into my shopping cart. He looked at me, smiled, and said, "Merry Christmas."

My wife and I went to the checkout, paid for the bike and went home. All the way home I was thinking that this moment was by far the best Christmas gift I had ever received. The kindness of a stranger that broke all preconceived notions I may have had of stereotypes and prejudices. The tenderness of a human heart in a simple act. I will never forget it.

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