There are more Christmas miracle stories than Liza Minelli has prescriptions. How often to you actually see one? Or have one happen to someone you know? Even rarer, have it happen to you? I have, just yesterday. Don’t believe me? Just look at all the things that had to go exactly as they did for this true, and truly heartwarming, story to occur.
I had one last errand to run at the local mall. I usually spend as much time at malls on Christmas week as George W. Bush spends at Mensa meetings. This year I had to get one special gift for a special someone. My heart was so overwhelmed with the spirit of the season that I took advantage of a rare weekday off work to brave the mall.
I had someplace to be later, so I was in a bit of a hurry. Lacking time to brush my teeth after a quick snack in the car coming home from grocery shopping, I grabbed two sticks of gum from the kitchen counter and popped them in my mouth. The gum had been sitting there at least six months, as I chew maybe a pack of gum a year.
Parking at the mall was at a premium, as you’d expect on December 23. It took ten minutes of looking until I found a spot only a few rows from the entrance. Something looked unusual a lane over from me and, good Samaritan that I am, I went that little bit out of my way to see if anything was wrong.
Imagine my surprise and dismay when I saw a big, honking Dodge Durango parked to occupy three spaces! Pulled in at an angle, the nose filling what might have been a pull-through space, the rest of the Durango parked across two spaces on the side from which the driver pulled in.
You can imagine my concern. What looming catastrophe could cause a driver to park in such a haphazard manner so close to the mall entrance on a day when everyone knew parking would be at a premium? Imminent childbirth? Dire illness? Needing to get to the last X-Box at Electronics Boutique? Whatever had happened, surely this person was in need of everyone’s understanding and sympathy.
I noticed a piece of lined notebook paper under the back window wiper. Thinking it might be a clue to provide more information, possibly allowing me to be of some assistance, I moved closer to read what it said. Three simple words: You are rude.
My heart went out to the poor parker. Surely he or she must have faced a daunting hardship, or the Durango would not have been parked in such a seemingly thoughtless manner. Based on personal experience, owners of enormous SUVs are renowned for their consideration of others, as well as calm and passive driving habits. How would this innocent feel if, bearing parcels of Christmas joy, he or she returned to the vehicle only to find such a snarky insult clipped to it?
I thought of removing the note but stopped with my hand in mid-reach. Who was I to deny the First Amendment rights of the note writer, no matter how distasteful the opinions expressed? Especially at this most sacred season, would not such a gross violation run contrary to everything we hold dear as Americans? I knew in my heart that if I removed the note, the terrorists would have won.
But what to do? The Durango person had to be shown there were those among us who felt his (or her) pain, and were appalled by the fascistic antics of the intemperate note writer. I pondered for only a few seconds before the true meaning of the season brought me an epiphany. A gift! What better way to express disapproval with the nasty note than to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas (Hanukkah) by leaving a small token of our shared humanity?
Now the question of what to leave was thrust upon me. Money seemed too impersonal, and would blow away in the breezy weather. I had little else of even sentimental value on me, as I was on my way into the mall, not laden with gifts as I would be when exiting. I stood pensively, chomping on my now-flavorless gum, until my second, and even more miraculous, epiphany of the day struck me.
I vowed to leave something of myself. Unfortunately, almost all physical aspects of humans are firmly attached. Hair would be blown away by the same avaricious breezes lurking to steal the previously considered cash. Yet there was one item with which I had become so intimately acquainted that it bore my very DNA. What more profound and sincere gesture could be given?
All that remained was to find a suitable location for this simple token. The cool, breezy day would dry it up if left anyplace exposed. It was easy to roll my gum into a properly-sized ball and park it in the driver side door lock with considerably more accuracy than the driver had used to park the Durango.
Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah.