More Than A Christmas Tree

The Next Family

By: Joey Uva

When I was seventeen I had the loneliest and hardest Christmas of my life. I lived in a small town in Oklahoma and had moved away from home in my junior year of high school. After I moved out, my dad moved away with my younger brother. I was now pretty much alone and worked full time at night, went to school during the day, and had very little money. It was a godsend that my job allowed me to eat for free; it was one less expense I had to worry about.

Thanksgiving had just passed and l was lucky enough to get to spend it with a friend of mine; her mom and dad were always very kind to me. Christmas was now about two weeks away and I had no money for a Christmas tree or gifts and felt extremely lonely. I knew this Christmas was going to be very difficult for me and different than any other I had experienced. I can honestly say it was one of the saddest and loneliest times of my life.

I took what money I did have and bought a box of Christmas cards to give to those people who were in my life at the time. It was a cold and snowy December night and I had to go to the post office to mail out my Christmas cards. I bundled up, got my cards, got in the car and headed to the post office. I parked right in the front of the post office as I was the only person there so late at night. I went into the post office where the front entrance was always open so you could drop off mail. I got my stamps and sat at the counter placing the stamps on my envelopes so I could drop them in the slot. I finished up and headed back outside into the snowy cold night. I opened the door to the post office and started walking down the steps. As I approach my car I noticed something on the top of it. I got closer to my car and there sitting on top of it was a small Christmas tree. There was no note, no card, no sign of anyone. At first, I didn’t know what to feel; I began to cry as I realized that there was someone out there who knew where I was in life, what I was going through and valued me as a person. I took the Christmas tree home and the next day I bought a couple cheap boxes of Christmas ornaments and put them on the tree. It was still a lonely Christmas but this gesture from a loving and unknown person gave me hope and the glimmer of light I needed to make it through.

Today, every single year, some time at the beginning of the holiday season that memory floods my mind and I get a little emotional and tear up. I am not really sure when it will hit, it doesn’t last long and it can be anywhere. Today I decided to write this because that memory just hit me. The thing is, I don’t cry because I remember the loneliness, or the sadness, or the lack of money; I cry because that memory still gives me hope and shines as bright today. With all I have now –my partner, daughter, family and friends –that memory still means as much today as it did back then.

I have never been able to say thank you to that unknown person, to give them a hug or write them a thank you card. But, do know this: I think about that act of kindness every single year. It never fails. I love the holiday season so much and you, whoever you are, remind me of that every year. It may have seemed like a small act of kindness at the time but it was much more than just a Christmas tree. Thank You!

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