anne mikolay 2012 120Admittedly, I can be a bit of a Scrooge at Christmas. My apathy has nothing to do with stinginess (my wallet is pretty empty anyway) and everything to do with what I perceive as the contrary nature of Christmas. Simply put, I detect a bit of hypocrisy in a society that mostly professes goodwill toward men only in December (and even then, selectively). Christmas, in its silver and gold merriment, is strikingly opposite our true, dog-eat-dog world. Thus, it’s sometimes a struggle for me to grab the Christmas spirit and run with it, especially since most of what I’ve witnessed lately has been less than cheery.

Like everyone else, I’ve been rushing around hoping to smoothly complete my to-do list before Christmas day. So much for good intentions.

While in the parking lot at Tomaso Plaza, I saw a senior day care transport speed up to the curb; the driver arrogantly beeped his horn at a car parked in front of the bus. The bus driver did not let up up on the horn; the car at the curb did not move. The driver got out of the bus, approached the man behind the wheel of the car and screamed at him. With the elderly passengers aboard, the angry transport driver sped away at top speed. Imagine how agitated the transport passengers must have felt! Rancor is unsettling.

I chalked that scene up to arrogance and went on my way, only to witness a similar altercation in the Shoprite parking lot where two female drivers of Chevy suburbans were engaged in a shouting match. “You're a beast!” One woman said to the other. Merry Christmas, ladies,” I said sarcastically. In retrospect, my scorn was uncalled for. Never add fuel to the fire! Hostility is contagious.

Now feeling sufficiently sour, off I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond. Anxious to get out of the mayhem that is Christmas shopping, I quickly presented my purchase to the cashier, an older gentleman humming Christmas carols. The clerk inquired if I found what I needed in the store, rang up my item, smiled broadly and wished me a Merry Christmas. He next asked me to follow him to Customer Service. I obliged, wondering what had gone wrong with my transaction and how long I would be stuck in the store while Customer Service sorted through the problem.

And then the gentleman reached over the Customer Service counter and retrieved something small, round.

He handed me a white Christmas candy with a little, green Christmas tree in its center.

And you have a wonderful day now,” the cashier said, smiled, and walked away as though handing out candy to strangers was routine for him. I thanked the gentleman, wished him well, and exited with a new spring in my step. Goodwill is uplifting.

That cheery sales clerk, full of Christmas spirit, has no idea what he did for me that day. With one simple gesture, one small piece of candy, he transformed my cranky, Scrooge-like frown into a smile and restored my faith in mankind’s goodness. If more of us were like that Bed, Bath and Beyond cashier, the world would be much more pleasant!

My thanks to that happy gentleman in Bed, Bath and Beyond for the Christmas candy and for making my day and my Christmas season a little sweeter. My wish for all Atlantic Highland Herald readers is that you, too, find (or give!) Christmas “candy” to make someone else's day and holiday season a little brighter. You never know how much a simple gesture of kindness can mean to another.

Merry Christmas!