Last Friday, in-between a routine echocardiogram and an appointment with my rheumatologist at Boston Medical Center, I decided to get a bite to eat. It was around 11:00, not quite lunchtime, but I knew I wouldn’t get home until mid-afternoon. Better to tackle the hour-long drive and run errands on a full stomach than get worn out before I could sit down at my own kitchen table.
I found a nice local diner, just a short (very cold) walk from the BMC campus, warmed up with a cup of tea that steamed my glasses, and enjoyed a hearty brunch of scrambled eggs, an English muffin and home fries. The diner was cozy and crowded. I had never been there before.
There was ample time to walk back for my second appointment when I asked the waitress for my check. A few minutes later, she returned empty-handed. “Someone paid for your meal,” she said. “You don’t owe anything.”
“How is that possible?” I asked, astonished. “I don’t know anyone here!”
She shrugged and smiled and suggested that Santa had delivered a gift. I thanked her, and sat there, marveling. There was no indication that this generous soul had paid for everyone. Why single me out? Who could it be? Fortunately, I had some cash in my wallet, so I gave my waitress a good tip. It was the least I could think of in the moment.
Walking back to BMC in bright sunlight, I pondered what had just happen. I’d heard of gestures like this, certainly, but never been the beneficiary. The cynical voice in my head wondered if it was some kind of social psychology experiment, to see how people responded to such an anonymous gift. But it didn’t really matter. Someone chose to do me a kindness. How lovely! And it gave me a real boost that lasted all weekend.
As 2019 draws to a close, a year of so much dire news, it’s uplifting to remember that there are many good people out there, who never get headlines, ushering light into the world. With Hanukkah and Christmas coinciding this week, we can use all the light we can find—and bring to others.
In that spirit, whatever your tradition, best wishes to you and yours for the holidays!
Image: Gaelle Marcel