It had been a rough year. Divorce, losing her custody battle, relocating for a new job only to have it fall through after traveling over 3,000 miles - not a lot of bright spots... Her fifteen year-old son had recently come to live with her - that was a good thing.
Of course, she didn't have a lot to offer him. A mattress on the floor in his room, a mattress on the floor in hers, two beach chairs in the living room with the leaf from the borrowed kitchen table propped on a crate between them serving as a coffee table - "spartan" was an overstatement for her apartment, to be sure!
At least he had found a nice girl from school and spent most of his time there. They fed him, fortunately, since there was rarely food at home. Her job as a waitress allowed her to buy a meal at half-price either before or after her shift, so a kid's meal every couple of days was pretty much the norm...
Christmas was coming soon. Her son had requested gloves and a red baseball cap to wear, as he had to walk to school through the snow every morning, and home again every afternoon. She'd found some gloves on a great sale, and those were ready to go, along with a cheap chess set she'd picked up at the drug store. The cap was another matter altogether. It was difficult to find a red one, and they were usually a licensed product and, therefore, out of her price range.
Well, the guy she'd just met had promised to take her to find one after her shift on Christmas Eve. Maybe she'd still be able to come through for her son.
Christmas Eve came and she got off later than she'd hoped. By the time they were able to get to any stores, everyone was literally locking the doors in their faces. Despair was looming...
"What kind of hat does he want?" her new friend asked.
"He just said he wanted a baseball cap, and he'd prefer red," she replied.
"I have a lot of baseball caps back at my apartment, if you want to come and check it out."
A little voice in the back of her head warned to be wary of ulterior motives. This was, after all, only the second time she'd spent any time with this guy. Of course, the first time they'd sat in Denny's and talked - literally - all night until he had to go to work. There was a glimmer of something possible... She decided to take a chance and go with him to his apartment.
He wasn't kidding, either. There was a rack on one wall of his apartment (a true bachelor's apartment, complete with weight bench and bar lights) that held at least thirty or forty caps. He pulled a brand new red cap from the rack and asked if it would work. She looked at it - San Francisco Forty-Niners. Her son's team! Hard to get more perfect than that!
"Are you sure?" she asked. "You've never even worn it."
"I probably never will, either. You need it - take it."
The little voice in her head not only decided to stop warning her, but had actually switched sides. "This could be someone we could love," became the new idea, and there was an unexpected, but very pleasant, warmth in her chest...
Thus began the love affair I've had with my husband for nineteen years now. We celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary yesterday. While this story may not seem heroic to many, trust me - "The Saving of Christmas" for my son was the only happy thing that season. My five daughters were still across the continent, and I wouldn't be able to scrape enough of anything together to send them until Valentine's Day. Greg was definitely my hero that holiday. He's done even more heroic things since then, but that was when I really started paying attention to who I'd met and what he was about. Here's the anniversary card I made for him:
I think that we have a tendency to consider heroes only in the context of 9/11 or war or some other equally epic event. I would propose that any time anyone fills a deep need for someone else, that they are a hero. I would further propose that any time you push through fear or self-doubt to do something that you feel strongly about, that you are a hero, too.
Mariah Carey agrees with me, too, I might add. As evidence, please view this video:
Who's your hero? Whose hero are you? What will you create this week to share with us? Here's Mr. Linky: Oh - and have a wonderful Christmas!