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Secret Santa was in Park Rapids

Christmas can be the happiest, joyous time of the year, or the loneliest. For me, it has been the latter. Death and divorce has major ramifications on traditions, causing all the familiar gatherings to be a thing of the past as the family unit changes. So it was for me again this year.

Mid-afternoon on Christmas Day, I received a call from an old friend, who suggested we get together and go to the Walker casino for something to do. I agreed, but had to stop for gas and cash. When I went to pay I realized I did not have my cash cards but had left them in the slacks I wore to church Christmas Eve.

I explained to the little gal at the checkout that I only live close and would be back to pay for the gas and that she could take my name and phone number. She said she could not ... it was policy. I understood and told her I was concerned about tying up the pump and assured her I would be back. By now both checkouts had several people in line and others overheard.

She finally said it was OK this one time because it was Christmas. I started to leave when I heard the young man behind me in the checkout line ask the gal how much I owed for my gas. She replied it was $17.

He said, "do not worry about it, I got it covered." I was so shocked, and overwhelmed ... I was speechless for a moment. I said, "my goodness, no, I cannot let you do this. I just need to run home and get my cards." I repeated this but he insisted on paying and said to have a Merry Christmas. I attempted to find out who he was but he wouldn't tell me.

As tears were rolling down my face from being totally overwhelmed by the act of kindness from a young man to an old lady, I looked around at all the smiling faces of the others waiting in line. After I realized he left, I wondered if I even got to say thank you to him.

This young man had no idea how difficult the Christmas season had been for me or how he touched my life. He truly has a warm heart, filled with the true Christmas spirit. I, somehow, suspect he has this warm heart year round.

Thank you and Christmas blessings to you, my secret Santa! I assure you I will be "paying it forward."

Mary Lou Pryor

Park Rapids