The tradition of gift giving during the Christmas season has convinced many that blessings should be shared to whoever needs it, whether stranger or family. This infectious spirit has touched the lives of many, encouraging them to pay the gesture forward. Here are 5 inspiring stories to make you rethink your approach to the holiday season and remind you how important it is to be kind.
5 Heart-Warming Stories of Christmas Kindness
At the height of the Great Depression, Martin Klapper’s parents were forced to go on home relief, which is known as welfare today. It was 1935. Martin was 10 years old, and they lived in a walk-up apartment in Brooklyn, New York. A few days before Christmas, Martin looked out a kitchen window to see his father sitting on the stoop, dejected and depressed, with tears in his eyes. The mailman was approaching our building and asked his father what was wrong.
“I heard my father say that he had used up his food vouchers and that the rent was past due. He had tried to work as a laborer through the Works Progress Administration, but he wasn’t a very strong man, and the work had been too hard for him. I was scared, having seen newspaper pictures of people being put out on the street with all their belongings.”
The mailman asked, “Ike, how much do you need?”
Martin’s dad said he needed $33 for the rent, and without hesitation, the mailman took $50 from his wallet and handed it over.
“I don’t know when I’ll be able to pay you back,” Mr. Klapper said.
The mailman put an arm around him and said it would be okay if he paid him back or he didn’t pay him back. The mailman noticed Martin looking through the window and said, “Isaac, things will not be this way forever. If you or your son will remember this day, there will be times in the future when someone needs your help. Help them within your means and tell them what happened this day. This will be my payback. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.”
“As long as he lived, my father helped others when he could,” says Martin, “and I’ve done my best to do my part in paying his generosity back.”
Parents for Rent
Jackie Turner, a junior at William Jessup University felt lonely thinking she could be the only student left on campus for Christmas. Her classmates were eagerly making plans and preparations with family and friends for trips back home, but Jackie couldn’t relate to any of that. Her childhood was abusive, so she never shared in any of the experiences she heard her classmates talk about. Born to a mother she never met and dad she wished she hadn’t, Jackie said she was abused, neglected, and starved.
“This time of year is hard,” Jackie said. “Everyone is talking about their cousins, their families, all the things that make up Christmas.”
But instead of feeling sorry for herself, the straight A-student posted an ad on Craigslist. For the holidays, she was willing to pay $8 an hour for people to be her parents.
“Maybe for like a couple hours,” she said, “just be, like, the light of their life for that moment.”
Her ad received tons of responses—parents who wanted to be there for free and other young people who sympathized. As an answer, she organized a Christmas potluck dinner for everyone: for young people looking for family and for parents who are willing to offer support. Jackie continues to host yearly potluck Christmas dinners because she believes no one should ever feel alone on Christmas.
In 2017, Calgary-based airline WestJet set up electronic Santa chat boxes in terminals at the Hamilton and Toronto airports. Travelers giggled at the chance to chat with Santa through a screen, and parents and kids alike told him what they wanted for Christmas. Everyone thought it was just a gimmick until they found big blue boxes with their names beside their luggage when they got to baggage claim at their destinations. Their dream Christmas gifts were inside!
It turns out that WestJet shoppers picked up everybody’s Christmas wishes during the flight—from socks and underwear to a big-screen TV!
The Businessman Santa
An anonymous, wealthy businessman from Kansas City has been lifting the spirits of strangers for the past 12 years by handing out extra cash to those “who look as though they could use a little boost.” With the help of a dozen local police officers, the secret Santa visits a few cities during the holiday season and hands out anywhere between $100,000 and $120,000 each time, all in the form of $100 bills. He would look for people who look sad so that he can “give them hope that their life can be changed.”
This anonymous benefactor, a Kansas City businessman, asked to not be publicly identified to focus attention on the importance of charity rather than his own background.
You can argue all day long about the pros and cons between a real and artificial Christmas tree. But what we too often forget is that some families can’t afford either.
Chad Rose from Michigan happened to have an extra Christmas tree from his business’s parade float. After it served its purpose, he posted it on Craigslist to give it away for free. His inbox was immediately flooded with touching stories from various families who deserved to have the tree.
One of the emails, which he shared with MLive.com, read, “Having a real Christmas tree would be such a great blessing this year [because] usually we draw a Christmas tree on a large poster and hang it in the corner.”
Because he was overwhelmed and he didn’t want to turn down most of the requesters, he drove to a tree farm in Greenville, where he bought 40 more, carting them to his Lowell home on a large trailer. He was going to give them all for free!
“I wish I could buy 100 trees,” he said. “Each email I’ve received has pulled on my heartstring, and makes me wish I could do more than just provide a tree for these families.”
The Christmas spirit did not end there. Ann Posont from East Grand Rapids read Chad’s post on Craigslist and wanted to join in. She offered to donate ornaments and other trimming for the 40 trees he had picked up.