“Make it go, Daddy! Make it go!”
I shook the store’s miniature merry-go-round to simulate motion, trying to convince my three-year-old son and his little sister that they were content just to sit on the wooden horses.
Inside the discount store my wife was finishing some last-minute Christmas shopping. As a struggling graduate student without a spare penny, I rattled and shook the merry-go-round in frustration. The San Francisco evening was black, cold, foggy, and depressing. I was tired and irritated by my son’s insistent cry for me to “Make it go!”
Shuffling noticeably, a middle-aged man came toward us out of the fog. By the dim light of the street lamp he watched my attempt to satisfy the children. After a few moments he fumbled in his pocket for a coin. His unkempt appearance and a pervading odor of alcohol made me wary, and I protested. They were fine, I muttered, shaking the horses again. “See, you’re fine, aren’t you?” I said.
Producing the coin, he pleaded, “Please, let me do this; please?” Surprised by the pitiful tone of his voice, I relented.
As the delighted children went round and round, the man haltingly explained, “My wife and I never had any children … and … she died recently. It’s Christmas … I’m all alone. Thank you.”
He disappeared into the dense fog. He had needed someone to give to at Christmas. And truly he had—not only to the children, but to me as well. Because of him, I had gained a new appreciation for a very precious gift from God—my family.
By Wendel K. Walton