When I was a fifth grader, I had a metal lunchbox that bore the hard, battle damage anything carried around by a 10 year old kid has; dented, scratched, with a busted plastic handle that was held in place by electrical wire.
I guess my family didn’t have the money to replace the lunchbox, and it didn’t really bother me. Or at least I don’t remember it bothering me at the time.
But it caught the notice of my teacher, Mr. Goldman.
One evening before Christmas, there was a knock on our front door. There was Mr. Goldman, with a gift.
I knew he didn’t celebrate Christmas, and was pretty sure he wasn’t making house calls to all of his students.
He spoke with my parents, and then left, leaving me to wonder what was now wrapped up under our tree from my teacher.
On Christmas Day, I finally got to see what Mr. Goldman had brought – a super cool new lunchbox (with a thermos!), shaped like a U.S. Mailbox. I was more than a little happy.
Over the years, I have come to appreciate Mr. Goldman’s act of giving all the more; giving when it’s not expected, paying attention to the plight of your fellow man, doing things because it’s the right thing to do.
Some years later, in the year prior to our marriage, my future wife and I were shopping in a mall in Nashville when I heard a voice that I immediately recognized – Mr. Goldman. It had been a good fifteen years or so since I had last seen him, but I immediately knew who it was simply by the sound of his voice. I retold the story of the Christmas lunchbox to my wife, and we invited Mr. Goldman to our wedding right then and there. I’m very happy to say he accepted and showed up.
And I have tried to pay forward the love behind his gift every year since.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Especially you, Mr. Goldman.