The Santa Hat in the Bronx

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Man in Santa hat in the Bronx provides hope to this writer.

santahatI am happy to see 2015 leave us.

For me, personally, this year was fraught with devastating loss, illness levied upon those close to me, dear friends who have moved away,  news of tragic circumstances and business opportunities that fizzled. Globally, we are all painfully aware of the unthinkable acts of violence that have occurred which, sadly, are becoming commonplace in every corner of the world. Terror threats are part of life, and our freedoms have become diminished.

2016 can’t come soon enough. But I would be naive to believe that the turn of the calendar page, the drop of a ball, and a new number of a new year will just make everything better.

We don’t have control over planetary issues, but we certainly do have control over how we proceed with our lives. It is so easy to become callous and de-sensitized as we are bombarded with horrific news day after day. But now, more than ever, it is truly the little things that can improve our world view.

On Christmas morning, we were meeting an old friend for breakfast at a diner that my father used to love, in my old Bronx neighborhood. It was a small tribute to my dad, who passed away just a few months ago, and a convenient spot to meet our friend, Pastor Elmer, who now presides over a Baptist church in New Haven. Elmer was my producing assistant many years ago, but even before he went into the ministry, he was a kind, patient, soulful young man, with a beautiful smile and hearty laugh. He would always know the right thing to say or do. It was a pleasure to begin Christmas seeing him, now that he has found his life’s calling. We ordered my father’s favorite breakfast, Belgian waffles and bacon. And we toasted my dad with the diner coffee. That was special enough for us to be there with Elmer, honoring my dad,  but there is more about Christmas morning that I wish to share.

HOT-LIST-LEADER-BOARD-2Prior to reaching the diner and meeting dear Elmer, we pulled up to what seemed to be an available parking space.  A man wearing a Santa hat was standing in the space, looking at his phone. At first, we thought he was just engaged in texting and didn’t realize he was  blocking the spot. I indicated that I wanted the space, and when he looked up, he explained that he was saving it for someone.

I nodded and we started to roll down the street. Suddenly, I heard a whistle, looked back, and there was the man in the Santa hat, gesticulating for us to back up, shouting that we could have the space. Apparently, his friends were walking toward him and had parked elsewhere. He waited for us to position ourselves to back up and take the spot.

Now, let’s face it. He didn’t have to do that. He could have just met his friends and walked away. That little, tiny act of thinking about others really struck me. Inconsequential, some would say. But huge for me.

As we embark upon a new year, let’s all think about little, tiny acts that we can do for one another, for people we do not know, for folks outside of our circle and scope.

And a big thank you to you, unknown man in the Santa hat in the Bronx. Thanks for providing me with a little bit of faith in mankind, and the fervent hope that 2016 will be better than its’ predecessor.

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2 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    We have many opportunities to be thoughtful- all it takes is a mind-set to care.
    Thanks to this article that unknown Bronx man will inspire us.

  2. Janet T Marena says:

    Thank you for sharing this story about how a small act of kindness can truly touch our hearts. In 2016 I hope we all can share a little more kindness each day.

    Formerly a decades-long Bostonian, I now live in San Jose. The other day I was in the city when I passed a young woman who flashed a beautiful and genuine smile. It made me flash one back realizing how even strangers can bring a tiny bit of joy to each other.

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