Season of giving

PAN readers write in about uplifting experiences this past holiday season.


On the last day of 2013, I had only 15 minutes to find a costume for an outing that evening before the ‘Sally Ann’ closed. I sought the opinion of a fellow female shopper, and took her advice.

Hurriedly, I paid for my purchases as I was rushed out of the store so they could close on time.

Walking across the parking lot, my husband and I heard a woman calling to us. It was the same woman who had helped inside the store. This total stranger had driven five minutes to her home and back again, on the off chance that she would still find us there.

She had in her hands, two peacock feathers, with which our costumes could be completed. I did not get her name so I cannot send her a thank you card. She went above and beyond in helping two strangers to have a fun and successful New Year’s Eve.

Thank you, kind and anonymous angel.

Pamela Vandeyck, Surrey

• • •

Grey clouds covered the sky on Christmas morning seemingly symbolizing my dark mood as I prepared to host a traditional dinner for our extended family.

Normally a joyful occasion, this Christmas would be bittersweet, as I faced the reality that for an elderly relative joining us it could be her last.

Unfortunately, this past year has been filled far too often with sad news of aging friends and relatives dealing with life-threatening illnesses. These events have also forced me to reluctantly address the sobering fact of my own mortality.

With the turkey safely in the oven, I felt a walk by the ocean might be just the thing to lift my spirits before everyone arrived. As I headed down the hill and along the pier with my husband, the sky brightened and rays of sunlight emerged from behind the clouds gently touching the water, transforming it from a dull grey to a sparkling blue. How could I be so downhearted when faced with such beauty? Still, my spirits were low.

At that moment, a young man approached us and asked if we could take a picture of him with his girlfriend, a common request in this beautifully scenic city by the sea. Then he asked for a second shot, and as my husband aimed the iPhone again, the young man suddenly produced a ring from his pocket, reached for the lovely young woman’s hand and to her surprise, and ours, placed it on her finger.

What an uplifting moment. What an honour to be part of such a special occasion.

We wished them all the happiness in the world and, as I walked away with my husband of 50-plus years, my eyes filled with tears of joy. If only that beautiful young couple could know what an unexpected gift they had given me on Christmas day when I was feeling so sad.

They gave me hope in the future and trust in the wonderful circle of life, of which we are all a part.

Beth Ellis, Surrey