The Kindness of Strangers

Alex and I went out tonight to get a Christmas tree. We went to the nearest tree lot, one run by the Lions or Knights of Columbus or something. Within a minute, a man asked if he could help me. I asked how much the trees run, and he said that depends how big I wanted.

I said, “I’ve got 40 dollars.”

The man started to balk, I’m assuming because trees generally start around $60 or so. Another man broke in and told me kindly just to pick a tree.

I told him I only wanted a tree about five feet or so. Most of the trees looked large, but I said I needed to carry the tree in myself, and besides, I have low ceilings.

The man showed me a skinny tree that was a little too tall, but I said it would do. Alex said he wanted to keep looking. The man smiled and said we’d wait until Alex made up his mind. I returned his smile and told him this tree would be fine.

I let Alex wander around for a minute, then I told him it was time to go. The man shoved a handful of tootsie rolls into my hand, “for Alex,” he said.

The men sawed the bottom of the tree, ran it through netting, and then loaded it onto my car. There wasn’t a hint of criticism the entire time, and no suggestion of charity. Just smiles and overall good cheer. Alex had no idea of the grace of those men tonight. But I did.

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