Another Christmas has come and gone, and while many people will miss the holiday spirit, there’s one part of the season no one will miss: the long lines and overcrowded stores.
But it was in one of these stores, surrounded by fellow shoppers, that one overworked mom rediscovered the meaning of Christmas—all thanks to a complete stranger.
Last week, Tiffany Spradling went into town for some last-minute shopping, her three rowdy young children at her side.
It was three days before Christmas, and it seems many shoppers had the same idea, a scene Spradling described as “1.2 million other people shoulder to shoulder no matter what store you walked into.”
But things got even more overwhelming when the family went into Walgreens. Spradling’s daughter Madi was running around with her shoes on her hands, and mom was desperately trying to keep her kids in line in the crowded store.
So when an employee confronted her, Spradling assumed they were in trouble.
“I thought he was going to tell me to quiet down and that Madi had to have shoes on in the store,” she recalled.
But instead, the employee didn’t scold the mother or her children—he introduced himself. His name was Devon.
And to Spradling’s surprise, he asked about her son, Gabe, who was about to turn 8 years old.
Gabe had scars on his face after he was burned by a diesel fuel tank. The employee noticed the little boy’s face, and felt a kindred spirit with him.
Because Devon had scars on his face, too. When he was 1 year old, he was run over by a car, leaving a permanent mark.
So he decided to give Gabe the advice he never got:
He started by telling him what a handsome young man he was. And that no matter what, everything was gonna be okay. Not to ever let anyone make him feel like he is any less just because he looks different.
Not to ever get down or depressed because he looks different, but to look in the mirror every day and be thankful that he is alive.
Every dream, every goal, anything he has ever wanted is and always will be just as attainable as it ever was. Not to let his scars keep him from anything. Always keep going.
No matter what anyone ever says or does, just keep his head up and everything would always be okay.
It was incredibly kind advice for the employee to give, and Spradling was deeply touched.
“I am so thankful for a person like this to teach my son such an important lesson just because. He didn’t know us. He didn’t have to say anything to us.
“I hope [Gabe] will always remember what this precious man told him tonight.”
But long after that chance encounter, that moment stayed with Spradling, who felt it was just the thing to rediscover her missing Christmas spirit.
“My anxiety had me wound about as tight as it possibly could without snapping, and [I] haven’t exactly been in the Christmas spirit,” she wrote. “It’s been a very long, hard, trying year, and right now things just aren’t the way they should be for our little family.”
But that one kind gesture from a stranger made a world of difference, and reminded her what Christmas was all about. She shared her story on the Love What Matters Facebook page, where it has been shared over 1,000 times.
“I will most definitely be making a trip back to the store one day to let him know just how much those 3–4 minutes blessed my heart for the rest of my life,” she wrote.