This is the time of year when charitable acts seem to be a little easier, when kind thoughts seem to come a little faster and the spirit of the season makes people smile a little more often.
Above and beyond all the charitable giving, there are the little things going on that we don't hear about. The person who shovels snow for an elderly neighbour. The child who buys a toy for another in need. The hot chocolate bought and paid for ahead of you in the drive-thru.
We asked readers to submit their Random Acts of Christmas and they came through. We got stories, new and old, that illustrate the heart of the holidays.
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The saga of the rock
I placed a large rock in the front of my yard to protect the irrigation line. People were driving over it and had to replace the head on it a couple of times.
So many people walk this road all year long so I thought that I would dress the rock up a little. I painted a smaller rock as a frog and placed goofy eyes on it thinking the young kids would get a laugh.
The rock lasted a few months then it was taken. Well, quite sad to see it go, I left a sign out front to please return my rock.
After waiting awhile and it did not come home, Nicole gave me a ceramic frog. I decided at this point to glue it down.
Got up one morning to find it face down in the gravel. Someone had kicked it over.
Hmmmm. Not having much luck with this whole rock thing, I thought I would leave it until the spring and think of something else, but then a few days later my large rock was taken! Who would take my rock?
I am writing this to say that people are good (a few bad ones in the mix).
Looking out my window this morning I see that my rock has returned. It has been painted with a note attached that read: "These three frogs have come home to rest. They can stay out in the cold or snow as they have been sprayed with clear enamel. Merry Xmas."
Then I put out a sign saying, thank you and what a wonderful thing to do. It's still out there.
Ten days later, I came home and there was another bag and a note sitting on top of the rock. The bag contained a rock painted with two kittens on it.
The note said: "I enjoy painting rocks, but not as much as I enjoyed your wonderful thank-you sign. I hope you can find a warm spot in your home for these two kittens. This is it, no more surprises. Some day when I see you in your yard, I will stop and visit. It's been fun. Once again, Merry Christmas and all the best."
— Sally Wilson
Choir's songs lighten late Christmas
It was November 2001, my husband was very sick. Every test turned up nothing.
By the end of November, it was decided it was colitis, and he was in hospital. Surgery was done Dec. 12.
It was a struggle for days after and Christmas Day was a very bad day. Things were not going well. The tree was up, the presents were under the tree, and the house was decorated.
All the decorations were going to be left for the homecoming of my husband.
Jan. 29, 2002, my husband came home. The Christmas tree was still up and the presents were still under the tree.
We heard noise outside. The choir my husband and I sang in was at the door carolling.
What a Christmas we had a month late. They even brought Santa with them.
Merry Christmas to one and all.
— Elsie Shields
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A Gripping Gift
I was delivering newspapers on Moncton Avenue on Nov. 21 when a postal worker, while crossing the street toward me, asked me how I was handling the icy conditions.
I told her I wished I had listened to my wife about a month before when she suggested I should get some ice cleats.
When we met, she took off her ice cleats and gave them to me saying that she was
almost finished delivering on her route and that maybe I needed them more than she did.
Wasn't that nice of her?
— Douglas McKee
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Thoughtful secret Santa's giving still an emotional memory
About 15 years ago, I was in Grade 10 or 11. It had been a long school year and my siblings and I were all in high school.
With the increased cost of school supplies and extra-curricular activities, my mom (who was a single mom and wasn't working at the time) was finding it hard to find her Christmas spirit as she didn't know how she was going to provide Christmas for us.
It was the beginning of winter break and someone rang our doorbell. When I looked out
the peephole, no one was there. Curious, I opened the door.
There before me were two large boxes full of Christmas essentials, there was garland, wrapped presents, a tree topper, a box of Christmas oranges and a gift card to Safeway for the turkey and fixings, the note said.
We had no idea who had dropped off the hamper, or why, but they knew enough about our family to provide a present that suited each person in our house. My mom cried that day and again on Christmas morning when she opened her gift and found a pair of slippers in her size and favourite colour.
Whoever left those items, they were a blessing to us that year, and it still brings a tear to my eyes to remember how much it meant to our family that someone would help us, and wouldn't even know how grateful we were.
— Mandy Fonos
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Coffee friends contribute to food bank
A little into the new year last year, I had a brainwave.
Every week, at least once a week, more often two or three times, two of my dear friends and I meet at Tim's for a great cup of brew, a treat and a great visit with lots of laughs and a few tears.
I said to them, every time we meet, I'm collecting 25 cents from each of us to donate to the food bank at the end of the year. I have a special little coin purse that I use for collecting.
It's been fun trying to remember our donation as we've enjoyed our many cups and chit chats.
Next year, possibly it'll be even better if I ask everyone I meet at Tim's to donate to this great cause.
The balance currently sits at $40.45. Wow, 162 cups of coffee. We'll keep drinking.
— Linda Fraser for herself, Bunnie and Margaret