But the holidays are more than just tangible gifts.
Last Christmas was probably one of the worst, as shopping was difficult because my grandfather was so sick. I got everyone a gift, but thoughtfulness was not a priority. Gift cards (which I personally don't mind, but many of my recipients have the mindset that you have to "open something") were the gift of choice for many of my recipients.
However, there was a lot of generosity given to my family at this time. When I needed to leave work at Kennywood because we weren't sure what was going to happen to my grandfather that night, my co-workers stepped up without complaint, filling in on a whim. When he eventually passed away (5 days before Christmas), I was given the time off of Kennywood and school without issue. When we needed pierogies for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, and no one in the family had time to make them, friends stepped in with dozens of their own - in addition to other foods, such as cookies upon cookies upon cookies. When we needed friends and other family members for comfort after his passing, they were there.
Christmas wasn't the same, but it could have been much, much worse.
Knowing that there are people out there who deserve nice things when bad things happen, I decided to do something nice for someone else. A "pay-it-forward" of sorts, I felt compelled to do this one thing for a very dear friend:
|Part of Matt's Facebook message to me, where I found out about his wish.|
This wasn't going to be easy for me, personally. I HATE crowds and traffic, and Light-Up Night in Pittsburgh is a madhouse. I had a game plan - go downtown right after school (2:30), park, and explore the city until a line started to form. I even called the downtown Macy's to be sure that I wasn't going to get kicked out of the store before the autograph signing (they said that I wouldn't).
My plan started off well - I parked in the garage on the Boulevard of the Allies across from Point Park University, found an awesome spot on the 3rd floor right by the elevator, and set off to Macy's. I found where the autograph signing would take place, then left to go out into the city.
The entire time I was out-and-about, I took short video clips of what I was doing. You'll see why in a bit.
I needed to eat (otherwise, there was no way I was going to make it), so I stopped at Chipotle in Market Square to fuel up. This killed some time.
I went back to Macy's to make sure that there were no crazy Gloria Gaynor Stalkers in line already (there weren't), and explored the city some more.
After awhile, and since it was raining, I decided to contain my exploration to Macy's. I played "Musical Chairs" among the seats on different floors so I didn't seem crazy for sitting in one place for too long. While I sat, I edited the video clips together (again, you'll see the result soon). Around 6:00pm, an announcement was made that Rick Sebak was on the 5th floor, so I went to visit him for a bit. When I came back down to the 1st floor where the autograph signing would be taking place, there was a man in line.
It was about 6:30pm by this point, and I figured I could stand there for 45 minutes. I asked the woman at the register what I needed to do to get the autograph, and she pointed out the CDs on the table. I bought one, and got in line - I was #2.
More people got in line shortly after, and then after Ms. Gaynor's performance, a rush of people came through the doors and formed a much longer line very quickly. Promptly at 7:15, Ms. Gaynor arrived.
She didn't say much besides "Hello", but I informed her that this autograph was for a friend who was going to be ecstatic about receiving it. Not only did she sign the CD, but also an 8x10, which read:
"To Matt ********, You will survive! Love, Gloria Gaynor."
(******** being his last name, of course)
I failed on the "Hey! Hey!" part, but I took what I could get.
I thanked her and her security personnel profusely, then finished editing the video and uploaded it to Facebook (thank you, free Macy's Wi-Fi). I mentioned Matt in a comment, hoping he would see it.
Other people did - including Rick Sebak - and started to comment...but not Matt. I had to take matters into my own hands, so I called him as I drove home.
I told him to check Facebook - and this is what he saw:
The reaction? Priceless. Besides feeling like this was something that I was destined to do, I knew that hearing that reaction out of him would be worth more than any issues that I had obtaining the autograph - yet, I had NO issues. It was actually fun! I saw things I probably would not have seen otherwise (as I have never been to Light-Up Night before), and I made my dear friend happier than I have ever seen him before.
Maybe I WAS destined to do this. I'm so glad I did.
I stopped by his house and gave him both the autographed CD and picture. The elation on his face was amazing. Seeing him so happy made me even happier.
All worth it.
The moral of the story? If you have the chance to do something nice for someone - do it. The reward to yourself is as big as the reward for that person.
Although, I don't know how I'll ever top this...
You, however, have the opportunity to "pay-it-forward" by helping children have a Merry Christmas of their own. Many of them would not receive any gift - not one - otherwise; even just one gift would seem like the best gift in the world to them because someone was thoughtful enough to think of them during the holiday season. To learn more about the CHS: Holiday Gift Project and how you can get involved visit: http://bit.ly/CHSHoliday2013
This post was written from a prompt by Community Human Services Holiday Gift Drive in partnership with Pittsburgh Tweetup.