Bellingwood Vignette – Kindness Acts
“Come on, Cameron,” Doug Shaffer said. “Let’s go pick up a Christmas tree.”
Cameron glanced at his mother. It was something she usually did with his dad. She smiled. “Go on. It’s time you learned how to pick out a good one. The rest of us have plenty of Christmas decorating to do today.”
“Okay,” he said with a shrug.
In the last two years, Cameron had gone from homeless after his house burned down, to living in a tiny apartment with his parents and siblings, to a bigger apartment. Now his parents were talking about building a house. He never thought it would get better after he was forced to move away from his friends, but he still remembered that night in the woods behind the hotel when Henry Sturtz promised him it would. He’d gotten a new dog, he made new friends, and this year there were going to be a lot more presents under the tree. Who knew that moving to Bellingwood would change his life this much?
His dad stood at the front door holding Cameron’s coat. “We’ll be back later, Julie,” he called out.
“Don’t hurry. Have fun.”
As they went outside to the truck, Doug put his hand on Cameron’s back. “We’re going to do something a little different today, buddy. Just you and me. I want to make this an annual tradition.”
“Do you ever think about how much you’ve been given?”
Cameron frowned. “What do you mean?”
“How fortunate you are. Do you ever think about that?”
“I guess. Not a lot, but yeah. We lived through the fire. That was a good thing.”
“Not just in the big things, but the small things, too,” his dad said. He pointed. “Belt on.”
“I’m confused.” Cameron obeyed and pulled the seat belt on.
“It was your mom’s idea, but I told her that I wanted to do this with you. While we’re out today, we’re going to do three random acts of kindness because we’ve been given so much.”
“That sounds kind of cool. How will we figure out what to do?”
Doug smiled as he pulled onto the highway. “We’ll know when we see it. Your mom knows we’ll be gone for at least two hours, so we have plenty of time. Are you ready for the adventure?”
“This sounds like fun. So, Dad …”
“Did we leave now so we can get lunch?”
Doug laughed. “You are always hungry, Cam. What do you want for lunch?”
“Don’t break the bank, bud. Really?”
“Yeah. We never get to go there. Please?”
As they drove through to the south side of Boone, Cameron kept his eyes peeled for something they could do. There wasn’t much going on. Maybe everyone was out shopping. It was the day after Thanksgiving. Then he saw it. A young woman was dragging a big box across her front lawn.
“Dad, stop. Can we help her?”
His father pulled over. “Go ask.”
Doug smiled. “Yes. You. Go ask if we can help her.”
Cameron took a deep breath, opened his door and said, “Ma’am?”
The woman looked up.
“Can we help you? My dad and I are out looking for random acts of kindness to do.” Doug gave a nervous giggle. “That sounded weird, but can we help?”
The young woman looked at him and then peered to see Doug in the driver’s seat. “I can do this,” she said.
“We’d like to help if you’d let us. No money or anything. Just let us help.”
She let out a strange little sound and nodded.
“Come on, Dad,” Cameron said.
Doug turned off the truck, got out, walked around and with his hand on Cameron’s back, they strode over to the box. “What are you working on here?”
The young woman couldn’t speak. She just pointed at the box.
Doug unflapped it and smiled at a box filled with inflatable Christmas decorations. “These are great. We’ll put them wherever you want us to. We’re yours to command.”
She shook her head and tears spurted out of her eyes. “I’m sorry,” she choked. “This was so unexpected.”
“Are you okay, ma’am?” Cameron asked.
“Not really. But thank you. This is so nice. I didn’t want to even put these out this year, but I had to. My husband loved Christmas and he loved these silly things.”
Cameron heard her use the past tense when she spoke and looked at his dad.
Doug smiled at him. “I’m sorry,” he said to the young woman. “How long has he been gone?”
“He died last February. It’s been the worst year, but I told myself I was going to be better by Christmas. My parents are coming into town next week. I wanted to have this much done at least.”
“Well, we’re here. We’ll get these set up for you.”
The three of them worked and before long, the Santa, the snowman, and an inflatable Rudolph were starting to come to life. The young woman shook Cameron’s hand. “Thank you. Cam’s probably smiling right now.”
“Cam?” Doug asked.
She nodded. “My husband. Cameron.”
“That’s my name,” Cameron said.
She stepped back and clutched at her heart. “Really? He sent you?”
“I don’t know about that, but yeah, that’s my name.”
She stepped forward and hugged him, then unexpectedly hugged his father as well. “Thank you so much. Maybe I will be better by Christmas. I know he’s keeping an eye on me. Thank you. Can you come in for something to drink?”
Doug shook his head. “No, not today. We’re off on another mission.”
She stood beside the inflatable Santa as they walked silently back to their truck. Cameron waved at her as his father drove off.
“That was weird, right?”
“Pretty wonderful, though.”
“I’m never going to forget that. I can’t believe we got there just at the right time.”
“Little miracles,” Doug said.
He pulled into the drive-thru at McDonalds and they placed their order. It was busy today and they had a short wait. “What do you think?” Doug asked.
“Pay for the family behind us?”
Cameron’s eyes lit up. “Yeah? That would be great.”
When they got to the payment window, Doug handed his credit card to the cashier. “We want to pay for the family behind us,” he said.
She grinned. “All they’re getting is two drinks. That’s easy.”
“More, Dad,” Cameron said. “Is that okay?”
“My son says we need to spend more than that. Pick up the next family, too.”
“That’s really nice of you.” She handed back the receipt and his card. “Thank you.”
“Merry Christmas,” Doug said.
Cameron echoed him. “Merry Christmas!”
As they drove away, Doug patted Cameron’s knee. “That was fun.”
“They couldn’t even say thank you. So, it was like the perfect gift. They don’t know us. We just were a person who did something nice.”
“That’s two. Keep your eye out for number three.”
“Do you really think her husband sent us to help with those decorations?”
“I don’t know, Cameron. I do think that God keeps an eye on his children, though.”
“What if we hadn’t come out to do this today?”
“But we did.”
“But what if we didn’t?”
Doug pulled into a parking spot in front where they’d pick up their Christmas tree. “But we did and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?”
“If we hadn’t been looking to do an act of kindness, we wouldn’t have stopped to help her.”
“What does that say to you?”
Cameron took a long drink of his soda. “That we should always be looking for ways to be kind?”
“It isn’t easy. It’s hard for me, too. I get so busy with everything I’ve got going on, I forget to look out for people I don’t know. I wouldn’t have seen that she needed help if you hadn’t been paying attention. You did that, today.”
“So I did one and you did one.”
After they finished eating, Doug gathered up the trash. “Shall we find a tree?”
“They have a bunch up there.”
“Your Mom said it was on you to find the perfect tree. Let’s see what we come up with.”
Cameron took the bag of trash from his dad and ran it over to a can in the parking lot, then ran back to his father. “How are we going to get those trees into the truck?”
“They’ll bag them for us,” Doug said.
The two wandered through the trees and Cameron finally decided on a six-foot blue spruce. “Is there enough room for the star on top?”
Doug nodded. “It will be great. Let’s ask someone to help us.”
“You stay here. Don’t let anyone else take this one. I’ll ask,” Cameron said. He headed to one of the people who was wearing a logo-ed sweatshirt. He had to stand and wait for a few minutes while the man spoke with a woman.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. If you wait a few weeks, some of these will come down in price. Right now, I can’t make that kind of a deal. Come back just before Christmas.”
“But …” her words trailed off. “Okay. I understand. I was just hoping.”
“I’m really sorry. I don’t have the authority to make a deal like that.”
She nodded and stepped back.
Cameron looked up and saw tears in her eyes.
“Sir,” he said. “My dad is back there by the tree we want to buy. He sent me to get you.”
“Got it, son. I’ll find him.”
Cameron started to follow him, then turned back to the woman. She was walking away. “Ma’am?”
She looked at him.
“You need a tree today?”
She nodded. “I wanted a live tree. My husband is coming home tomorrow. He’s been gone for eight months overseas. I wanted to surprise him. But we don’t have the money for one of these trees.”
Cameron took a deep breath. He knew that his parents didn’t have a lot of money, but he’d give up a Christmas present if necessary. He reached out and grabbed her hand. “Yes, you do. Come on. Let me get my dad.”
“No,” she pulled her hand back. “I don’t mean for you to do that. It’s okay. We’ll figure this out on our own.”
“I know, but see, Dad and I left the house this morning knowing that we were going to do three random acts of kindness. He told me to keep an eye out for the third. I think that’s you. Please?”
She blinked and shook her head. “I don’t understand.”
“Sometimes things don’t make any sense to me, either. Come on. Let’s find my dad.” Cameron grabbed her hand again and led her to where he’d last seen his father. “Did you have a tree picked out?” he asked.
She nodded and pointed at a small, but thick and wide tree. “We don’t have a lot of room in the apartment.”
“We don’t either, but Mom says we’re going to have a big tree anyway. It’s the first time in a few years.” He heard his father’s voice and took the woman’s arm, leading her to the sound. “Dad. I found it.”
Doug turned and when he saw his son with another woman, smiled. “You did?”
“Can we buy another Christmas tree?”
“Of course we can.”
The man who worked there looked up and frowned at the woman standing beside Cameron.”
“She needs a tree today,” Cameron said. “Her husband is coming home tomorrow. He’s been overseas.”
“Military?” Doug asked.
The woman nodded.
“We’ll buy her tree, too,” Doug said.
“There is a military discount, ma’am,” the man said. He propped the bagged tree up against the wall. “Which tree would you like?”
The two walked off and Doug put his arm around Cameron’s shoulders. “I knew you could do it.”
“Is this okay? I know it’s more money. I’d be willing to give up a Christmas present. She should have a tree.”
“This is just fine. I’m proud of you.”
Cameron shrugged. “It feels really good,” he said in a near-whisper. “I wish I could do this every day.”
“Me too, son. Me too.”
This idea comes from Kristina Kuzmic – The Truthbomb Mom. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Book 24 – In All Things, Give Thanks comes out in less than a week! It’s almost here!