Copyright © 2019 Christopher Hiedeman. All Rights Reserved.

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Snow softly drifted to the ground as shoppers rushed from store to store, buying up anything that was left to give to their loved ones. Cheryl looked around at all the chaos. Over the years she had slowly lost what had made Christmas special to her. Christmas today seemed overwhelming. People bought gifts to give to each other, expecting a gift in return. They got together for Christmas dinners, but left right after they finished eating. No one seemed to even send cards anymore. She walked down the sidewalk to the next shop, doing it more as routine than anything. She was doing what she did every year – she bought gifts, wrapped gifts, sent out cards, and hosted a holiday dinner at her home.

 

Though her holidays looked and seemed perfect, the feeling wasn’t there anymore - something was missing, but what?

After waiting in line for 30 minutes with her items, she walked outside with her bags. She sighed with relief as this was her last stop. Cheryl made her way through the crowded sidewalk to her car. It was dark out now. The streetlamps illuminated the falling snow creating sparkling cones below them. Cheryl grasped her car key and turned it, but nothing happened. She tried a few more times, but her car just wouldn’t start. So, she left her car and made her way down the sidewalk toward the car repair shop. Though it was only a few blocks away, with all the people flooding the sidewalks, it was going to take her a while to get there.

As she slowly made her way down the sidewalk, Cheryl lost herself in her thoughts, thinking about the holidays. She thought about all the gifts she gave people, and how underwhelmed they seemed with them even though she worked hard to get them the perfect gifts. She frowned as she thought about the two Christmas cards she had received, even though she had sent out 44. Christmas had lost its meaning. Suddenly, her feet slid out from under her and she came crashing down onto the icy pavement. People continued walking past her. Some looked and giggled, but for the most part, it seemed like she didn’t even exist. Her hand hurt, so she sat there and took off her glove to make sure it was ok.

“Are you ok miss?”

Cheryl turned around to see an old man wearing old torn clothing standing next to her. With a warm smile, he held his hand out to her, offering to help her up. His gloves were torn, showing his rough skin through them. She grasped his hand and he helped her stand up. “Thank you so much,” she said.

 

“I’m ok. My car won’t start, so I was just headed over there to see if they can get it running again.”

“Oh, ok. That’s too bad about your car – I hope they fix it for you.”

“Me too,” said Cheryl. She smiled at the man and turned to walk away.

“Merry Christmas, miss!” He said with cheer.

Cheryl couldn’t help but smile even wider. “A very Merry Christmas to you too!” she said. She watched the old man smile and walk away toward a shopping cart full of plastic bags, blankets, and other items. Her smile faded as she watched him sit down in the snow next to the cart. People walked passed him like he wasn’t even there. Every now and then a kid would point at the man. The parents would rush their kids past.

She looked at her watch – the car place would close soon, so she rushed there to get her car the attention it needed. They towed her car to the shop. Cheryl waited in the warm waiting room, thinking about the cold old man outside. She thought about his kindness and his cheery attitude. He didn’t seem to have a thing in the world, but somehow, he seemed happy. All of a sudden, she got an idea. She rushed out into the shop and grabbed the shopping bags out of her car. She went down the street and returned “gift” after “gift” to each store, and then rushed over to where the old man sat.

 

The sidewalks had fewer people now. The snow sparkled on the ground around him as he looked up at her with a smile.

“Can I help you miss?”

Cheryl looked down at him and held out her hand. “Can I treat you to dinner at the café?” she asked.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” he said.

“I want to.” She replied.

The man’s smile widened, and he grasped her hand. He stood up and dusted the snow off of his tattered jacket. "I just need to grab something in this store," said Cheryl. The old man waited outside as she ran in. Cheryl purchased a new jacket, gloves, and other winter apparel for the man. She also purchased a few gift cards to local restaurants. Cheryl bounced out of the shop smiling and handed the items to the man.

"Here, these are for you," she said.

The man looked at her in awe. "You really didn't have to do that," he said.

Cheryl looked at the man and smiled. "You were kind enough to lend me a hand when I needed it, so I wanted to return the favor."

The old man smiled merrily and the two of them walked through the glistening wonderland together. As they walked toward the little café, she looked over at the old man and felt something she hadn’t in years. The spirit of Christmas, and the spirit of giving were set ablaze in her heart once again. She felt a warmth in her soul that was indescribable. This was it, she thought. This was why the old man was so happy. Though he had little to give, he gave what he could – his kindness.

The Spirit of Giving

Genre: Holiday Sentimental Drama

The holiday season is here once again, but for Cheryl, the season has lost its luster.