Tis The Gift to be Simple
Kindness is often described as ‘love in action,” and when we look around we can see evidence of that in meals being delivered to shut-ins, volunteering at an animal shelter, giving a donation to benefit a local charity…
And then there are the private gestures, unbeknownst to most but deeply impactful: a wordless hug to one who is suffering, waving someone to go ahead of you in traffic, picking up the spilled contents of a purse belonging to a fraught mother trying to quiet a wailing toddler in the supermarket.
In this season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah many of us are well aware of, and some even boycott, stores that compel their employees to work on days that are normally reserved for celebrations with family and loved ones. And to be fair, there are certainly employees that desperately need the extra income and are therefore willing to take that mandatory shift.
I don’t know the intent of the server well known to Paul and I as we returned to a favorite Inn for Thanksgiving, but we were glad to see her friendly face again. Having cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for both our mothers and ourselves for a decade, followed by spending one Thanksgiving in hospital with his mother, then spending the next Thanksgiving in hospital with mine, it was a depressing succession that Paul’s mother then took her last breath on the subsequent Thanksgiving. Feeling that Paul well deserved a break on what is now a rather bittersweet day for him, we were relieved to be welcomed back to the place both our mothers declared had been their favorite restaurant.
Happy memories, rising like the effervescent bubbles in my flute of champagne began to replace the sadness that had previously colored the holiday and I only wish it had occurred to me to show the kindness that the two gentlemen, seated directly across from us, celebrating both the day and their 40 years together, displayed when our server came over to take our drinks order.
Leaning over to lift the gift bag which had until then remained out of sight next to his chair, one of them presented it quietly to our server with words to the effect that they deeply appreciated her working on Thanksgiving and the gift was merely a token of their feelings. Her face registered both shock, then gratitude and on the verge of becoming overwhelmed with emotion, she departed to fill our order.
I will tell you that I felt embarrassed not to have thought of doing something similar. Yes, of course we tip appropriately, but it had never occurred to me to take it a step further—to go the extra small step to make a real difference in someone else’s day—especially when that very person is working hard to enrich ours. And so, along with the obvious thanksgiving for blessings received in our lives, I thank our dining companions—who were really lovely, interesting people—for giving us the gift of inspiration to follow their lead and do likewise the next time we book a table for a holiday celebration.
In fact, I can’t wait.