Saturday, December 22, 2012

Secret Santa

This time of year I always reflect on a few desperate Decembers in the early nineties: when the children were young and their ToysRUs wish lists were more compelling than the household bills - and I was responsible for all of it.

There were annual late night holiday visits from my new friends Beth and Jim. They were second-time-a rounders and they seemed so happy together. They seemed to understand what really matters: love and generosity. I met them one Fall when they started to routinely park on my front lawn for Hawkeye football games.

Anyway, a few days before Christmas, Beth and Jim would stop by unannounced, barely ducking in my back door, just long enough to press $300 in my hand and wish my family a Merry Christmas. Every year they told me they were just passing the money to me - from someone who wanted to remain anonymous, somebody who admired me and wanted me to spoil the children. And so I did. Instead of just socks and pajamas, the kids received games and toys and candy those years.

And after a few of these Christmases, I met Shawn Steil and the holiday visits from Beth and Jim stopped. I guess they knew it was time to spoil someone else, but their gifts, the lessons I learned from them, will outlast any other present I've given or received.


  1. were Jim and Beth the secret santa..or have you never found out who it was? It be cool to pay that forward, I'll bet your priest knows someone

  2. For all of us who have discretionary income, is there a better place for it than a person in need??