By Ryn Morrison
British Columbia, Canada
Thanksgiving found me working at a general store in a very remote area. I wasn’t pleased with having to work the holiday, but about half-way through my shift I saw someone who made me feel glad that I would at least be able to go home to share Thanksgiving dinner with my family.
The weather was awful, with an icy wind that drove down near-freezing rain like darts. A young man was walking along the highway, hitchhiking with very little success. Because of the remote location, there was very little traffic, and the few vehicles that did come by were driven by people who were rushing to dinner and couldn’t be bothered to pick up a soaking-wet stranger. I expected the man to come into the store to warm up, but he just kept on walking even though he was shivering with the cold.
I thought about how it must feel to be alone and trying to hitch a ride in such miserable weather on such a special day, and my heart went out to him. Wherever he was going, it was a sure bet he was not going to be there in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Because I was alone, I couldn’t leave the store to help out, so I called my parents. I knew that they were busy preparing Thanksgiving dinner. I explained about the young man and asked them if they could help out. A short while later, I saw my parents’ car appear. It drew to a stop beside the man and there was a quick exchange of words. Something was handed to the man, and then the car took off for home. The look of surprise, disbelief, gratitude and pleasure on this young man’s face was something I will never forget.
Making his way to the store, he came in and asked if he could stay for a few minutes, because “an angel” had come out of nowhere and given him Thanksgiving dinner, then just driven off without telling him who she was or how she had known about him. He did not have any money to buy food, so the hot meal was especially appreciated. I just smiled, offered coffee and juice to go with the meal, and watched him enjoy.
My parents impressed me that day with their willingness to interrupt their hectic holiday preparations to package dinner and bring it to the man. The person who I really want to thank, though, is that young man.
He accepted the gift in the spirit in which it was offered. His heartfelt thanks made each of us feel good about our small, anonymous parts in helping him. He made our holiday, and not a family celebration goes by when he is not remembered. In a way, he is part of our family. He reminded us of what giving, even in such a minor way, is all about.