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My Favorite Christmas Story

by on ‎12-23-2016 02:37 PM

As I have become older I find myself becoming more sentimental.  Those things that touch my heart, do so deeply.  I truly love this time of year, if for no other reason that it tends to remind us to be the nice people we would hope we could be all year long.

 

Sometimes it just takes a little reminder that there is still good in this world and that every individual can make a difference.

 

It’s funny how when the number of years indicated on your most recent birthday card increases, so does your level of grumpiness.  You never hear of a grumpy young man, right?  I must admit that in my middle age, my tolerance for others is not what it used to be.

 

 A few years back at Christmas time my wife Kelly suggested that we throw a small and intimate dinner party for a few of our close friends.  In years past we had hosted large celebrations but she knows me well and understands that fourth quarter is my most taxing time of year in terms of work load and schedule.  I liked the idea.  I really liked the idea.  100 people in your home is work, no matter how much you embrace the holidays.  Two other couples coming over for dinner, is a piece of cake!  (Regular cake mind you, not that cement block with green cherries in it called fruit cake … oh disgusting stuff, that fruit cake.)

 

She called me on that Saturday from her car phone and simply asked me if I could run to the grocery store and pick up a few things that she had forgotten.  “Sure,” I told her being the joyous grumpy guy that I had become. 

 

Now, the wonderful little town that I live in, and choose to call my home, is a steel mill town that has seen better days. That doesn’t bother me, in fact I like it.  Hard working, blue collar families, like me, that have worked hard for everything they have, just feels like home. When I walk into the local pub no one here is impressed that I just happen, by luck, to work on TV.  To folks around here I am just …Dan. That’s the way it should be.  

 

Now when tasked to “go to the grocery store,” around here you have a choice to make.  Two towns over is the fancy store with a selection of brie cheeses and scones, while the local store is well stocked with can goods and brand names I remember well from my childhood, like Velveeta and Hormel...  I like the local store.  

 

I whipped into the parking lot in my pickup truck and noticed a station wagon loaded with what appeared to be the sum total of another individual’s possessions. Sitting beside the car was a woman wrapped in a winter coat on a lawn chair …. With a puppy. 

 

I said I was grumpy, not heartless.   Seeing the woman there touched me, but I have to admit it was the puppy that really touched my heart.  As I did my shopping of three or four items, I could not get that woman and her dog out of my mind.  So, before I hit the register, I strolled down the dog food isle and grabbed a small bag of dog food and then went to check out.

 

I walked back to the truck and placed my simple bag on the front seat and walked over the to the woman, hoping that I would not offend, and said, “I saw you here, and I don’t want to overstep my bounds” I told her, “but if it is okay I would like to give you this, Merry Christmas.”  I handed her the dog food and reached into my pocket and handed her a $20 Bill.

 

The woman looked up without saying thank you and then said, “Yah know, a nice lady earlier, gave me a big bag of dog food and $100.”

 

Well hello grumpy old man.  In the moment, I said nothing other than, “Well again, Merry Christmas,” and I walked back to my truck grumbling. 

 

It was not the proper place or time to have said anything else.  When you have grown up in the Midwest like I have, you do not voice your dissatisfaction with others in public, you talk to yourself on the way home as all good people should do.

 

That bothered me and festered throughout the rest of the day. To the point when our dear friends, who had gathered at our table, I still found myself in a snit.

 

My wife called me out, “What’s your problem,” she asked without any harshness.

 

“I’ll tell you what my problem is (the grumpy man said), you asked me to go to the grocery store and I did.  For the sake of time I went to the local market, when I pulled into the parking lot there was a lady there, with a station wagon!”

 

“Yeah, I saw that earlier,” my lovely wife said, “did she have a puppy?”

 

“Yessss, she did,” I said letting as many syllables hang in the air as possible….

 

“I felt so bad for her,” my wife started to say.

 

“Let me guess,” I told her, “You gave her a big bag of dog food and $100, right?”

 

“How did you know that,” my wife asked truly amazed.

 

I started to laugh.  The type of laugh that comes from the belly and takes over your entire body.  I had not laughed like that in years. Tears welled up in my eyes from the laughter itself.

 

My wife, and both couples looked at me with a sense of bewilderment but the possible reality that they would need to put me in an “old folks home,” a few more years than had been expected.

 

“Because, when I gave her a small bag of dog food and twenty bucks,” I said through laughter and tears, “She pointed out that a much nicer person than I had out done me, once again.”

 

“You out-niced,” me, I said. “How is it that you always seem to do that,” I asked?

 

In hind sight, that woman I do not know, had received two bags of dog food and $120 bucks.  And in doing so I had not received the thank you that in my grumpiness I thought that I had deserved. In that moment, the thank you didn’t matter.  My wife, who will always be nicer than me, sweeter and more giving than I can ever attempt, taught me the simplest and most important message of the Christmas holidays. To give, expecting something in return is not true giving. When one gives with no expectation of anything in return what so ever, you truly embody the spirit of what Christmas is all about.

 

The fact that the lone woman, sitting in a parking lot, may still think, to this day that I am a cheapskate and less than generous, doesn’t matter.  She received the gifts.  I truly hope in all my grumpiness that it did indeed make a difference.

 

I think back to that day every year.  And every year it makes me smile. It forces me to think outside myself and count my own blessings.

 

I truly wish to you and yours the very spirit of the holidays.  There are no reindeer or Santa’s in my story but it has taught me much about what Christmas is all about.

 

That grumpy man had become a child again. Star struck and full of surprises. We as individuals always find what we make seek.  Sometimes it just takes someone to remind us.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

-Dan

 

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Comments
by
on ‎12-23-2016 02:49 PM

Dan,

I nearly fell outta my chair laughing when I read this comment from you:

 

"When you have grown up in the Midwest like I have, you do not voice your dissatisfaction with others in public, you talk to yourself on the way home as all good people should do".

 

I've been a Michigan resident my entire life - we mumble all the way home in the car too, lol.

 

Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family.

 

Bernadette

by
on ‎12-23-2016 04:09 PM

Dan and Kelly, 

Image result for happy holidays animated pics 

by
‎12-23-2016 04:36 PM - edited ‎12-23-2016 04:39 PM

Oh my gosh, Dan, you are the best guy!!  Well, your wife may be a bit better....or generous shall we say.  That is a great story.  I could just see you going home in your truck grumbling!  It made me smile and laugh as your blogs usually do!  A wise person said "Behind every great man is a great woman."  So true, but together you make a great couple!  Christmas Blessings to you, Kelly and the pups! 

by Mrs Chris P
on ‎12-23-2016 04:53 PM
Ahhh I remember when you posted about this when it happened! So funny! I love that you took the lesson from it, you are always looking for the silver lining and lesson in everything, I love that! I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
by
on ‎12-23-2016 06:27 PM

That was a good story!  You and your wife are both thoughtful and good-hearted.

by
on ‎12-23-2016 06:55 PM

I would say you learned two lessons Dan. First that you should never "give" somone something expecting anything in return because if you do then it isn't a gift. Secondly that you truly are blessed to have such a nice giving wife in your life because you are the recipient of all that niceness. I love your story and it truly is and should be what everyday life is all about. Just be nice. LOL LOL

by
on ‎12-25-2016 12:20 PM

What a great story.  But I was hoping for an ending where she gave you the puppy.  Smiley Wink

by
on ‎12-25-2016 03:17 PM

Dan, great story.  But i still think the woman in the truck should have thanked you!

And given you the puppy too, because she doesn't deserve a dog, and the dog deserves a better owner than she is!

by
on ‎12-25-2016 06:02 PM

Sadly there are always a few who live up to a negative stereotype and I would not have offered anything to her with that attitude. However I think it is important for all of us to remember that there are many, many people who have worked hard all their lives and made do with very little who have been devastated financially, emotionally and physically by the harshness of life and they deserve our compassion and generosity if possible, not our judgment.

by
on ‎12-26-2016 10:30 AM

Thank you for your story! It's a great reminder for me that the world just doesn't revolve around me and my needs.  

by Lexi
on ‎12-27-2016 08:11 PM

There are so many disturbing things about this story. Shows your self-serving attitude about giving with your displeasure about not receiving a thank you from the woman. Giving doesn't come with an expectation of thanks. Displays the disfunctional relationship with your wife; it's not a competition, who gives the most. This was an eye opener into the true person that you are.

by patachula2005
on ‎12-27-2016 08:41 PM

There is real pleasure in giving.  We gifted $$$$ to the checker at our local big box club as she had no money for Christmas,   I wanted to give gift cards and hubby said no.  He had been there before - not able to pay bills.  He said cash was best.  We were hugged and thanked the next week when we went shopping.  The best gift of all.

by samantha
on ‎12-28-2016 09:33 AM

Dan, thank you for sharing this great story. Like you, my fuse has become shorter with age and I grumble to myself all the time. I love to watch you on QVC, especially when you are hosting with Carolyn Gracie. You two were great commentators at the parade, really enjoyed it.

 

Happy New Year to you and your wife and all the critters.

by
on ‎12-29-2016 12:43 PM

that was a funny story dan! if that happened to me, i'd burst out laughing from shock! i've learned to continue to do good even when some recipients aren't grateful. i realized that i do it more for myself, than for them. if gratitude is shown, then that's a bonus. 

its the first time i've seen a photo of your wife. she's very pretty! hmmm, pretty and sweet. how did you get so lucky!? 😅

happy new year to the dan household!

 

by Tripp C
on ‎01-05-2017 10:53 PM

This has made my night!!! What a great story, you got a double Blessing thanks to your wife!!! By the way old women get grumpy also.

by Sherry238
on ‎01-07-2017 02:48 PM

I am not sure exactly why , but your story really touched me. I have always loved Christmas but this year was different it seemed more like a chore or a job then the happy occasion it has always been. I lost my  sweet chocolate lab after 14 years in Oct and my daughter got married ,so this was a different kind of Christmas  a sad kind. I know its over now and I can't change it but your story made me realize what is important and in this new year I will strive to be the person I know I should be. Thank you for sharing your life with us, Qvc really seems like a special place with a special family. I hope the New Year hold much love and laughter for you all.

by Myra from Ga
on ‎01-07-2017 03:45 PM

What a wonderful story !! I had to read this to my husband. Thanks for sharing ! 

Happy New Year ! 

by miss carla
on ‎01-16-2017 02:49 PM

from miss carla, it's not about the giving or the money. it's your willingness to give or help someone. my mother and father grew up not showing affection. when i was much older my mom said we need to say i love you, when you feel like saying it. shortly after that my father had to have 5by pass surgery,and i was able to tell my dad i loved him.it reallyfelt good. a few years later he had colon cancer and passed.i had a few years to let him know how much i cared about him.he was a good dad but never knew how to express his feelings til the later part of his life