by Deborah Dessaint
Right after high school, I got married and had two children. Child care cost was as much as I could make by working, so we decided I should stay home for a few years. It was rough sometimes, trying to make ends meet on just my husband’s income as a grocery clerk. While the pay was decent, the hours were crazy and we still struggled to get by. We only had one car, so I would sometimes keep it and then pick my husband up from work.
One Christmas Eve, my husband had worked from the wee hours of the night until early afternoon. He was just finishing when I arrived to pick him up. I had our infant son and toddler daughter in tow when I entered the store. We had bills to pay and food to buy, and we hadn’t bought any Christmas presents yet. We were hoping a Christmas bonus would pay for presents. It was payday, and we planned to do all our chores that afternoon.
When I laid eyes on him, I knew something was wrong — something more than the usual exhaustion or the dread of last-minute shopping. He explained what had happened. Not only was our entire Christmas ruined, we couldn’t even pay our bills!
That morning, after the store opened and the armored car left, the overnight employees picked up their checks. Because we were going shopping, my husband cashed his check and bought some food to take on his break. He then curled the rest of the bills into a roll and stuffed it in his pants pocket. Somehow, the roll of money must have fallen out and been picked up by someone shopping. His entire paycheck and Christmas bonus were gone!
How could someone do such a thing on Christmas Eve? We had nothing under the tree at home, and now nothing even to buy Christmas dinner. Not only was I worried about how we would pay our bills, I was just plain angry.
We slowly started toward the front of the store, trying to figure out what to do. Then the manager paged my husband to the courtesy booth. When we got there, the manager handed him a fat, plain, white envelope and told him to look inside. It was full of money! The other employees felt so bad for us, they took up a collection. While my husband counted the money and I fought back tears, a few employees gathered around, wished us a Merry Christmas, and went quietly back to work.
We never knew exactly who contributed or how much. They made up almost the entire amount that was lost! My faith in others had been destroyed and rebuilt in a matter of minutes. Ever since then, I have remembered that it was just one person who did a wrong — but many who worked together to make it right again.