Yesterday was the feast of St. Nicholas, a saint who was known for his anonymous gift giving to help those in need. On St. Nicholas Day children celebrate by placing their shoes where St. Nick can fill them with candy if they’ve been good, or a lump of coal if they’ve been bad. For our family, it didn’t matter if we’d been good or bad this year, we received a surprise gift the day before St. Nicholas Day.
Saturday afternoon there was a knock at our door. An unknown woman asked if she had found the Donnelly house. Convinced that she was in the right place, she gave us a manila envelope and quietly left. The envelope had a piece of paper attached that read “A gift for your family from St. Nicholas.” When we opened the envelope, we found a felt sack containing a generous cash gift. No other clues, no other writing, just a stack of cash. My wife and I looked at each other in amazement and asked, “Who could have given us this?” We immediately began listing names of individuals, families and groups that could have been behind this surprise.
As the day went on, we continued to think of names of people who could have been our secret St. Nick. Eventually I realized that the identity of our benefactor was not important. What was important was that we accept the money as a gift and give thanks to whomever was behind this kind, and loving gesture.
Our family is like a lot of American families this year. I am an “Executive in Transition,” which is a popular way of saying “I lost my job due to downsizing.” After 28 years with the same career, I find myself looking for a job in one of the worst economies of modern times. It’s been tough, but not unbearable. This surprise gift has helped me realize how truly blessed we are.
Will this cash gift change our standard of living? No. Will it help pay some bills? Certainly. Will it help make this Christmas rich with memories? You bet!
We have received a great gift this Christmas. As I reflect on the names of all of the people and groups my wife and I suspect may have been St. Nick for us this year, I realize that many “saints” surround us in our lives – men and women, friends and family that are more than willing to reach out to help if asked, and even if not asked.
Our family is blessed to have our lives touched by such great saints. We pray that you and your family also enjoy the gift of love this Christmas season.