The Note: You Are (Never) Alone

Sometimes kindness can be found when you least expect it.

If you read my columns, you’ll recall last week I was worried about spending Thanksgiving by myself. My father was going to Arizona on vacation, and my brother was on the other side of the state. Without anyone to cook at home, I figured I wouldn’t get Thanksgiving dinner. I knew that for a long time, so I volunteered to work.

Still, knowing I could keep myself busy and distracted with the newspaper didn’t make the week any easier. Hearing people talk about their Thanksgiving plans stung because, as selfish as it sounds, they would get something I wouldn’t. I swallowed hard as others asked me what I was doing, and I had to find a way to say I had no plans.

To be fair, several relatives from south of Fargo, Mandan and even Denver asked me if I wanted to join them. I couldn’t make it, but even if I had gone, would I have felt any differently about my situation?

My crazy mind that overanalyzes everything kicked in. It told me this would be the first of many holidays I would be alone, and I couldn’t do anything to gain back what I lost. I had to accept that it was possible the Thanksgivings I had in the past would only be memories.

So I woke up on Thursday to go to work. As others pigged out on turkey, it would be just another day for me.

Yes, I was able to stay busy, and I tried to avoid Facebook as much as possible, knowing I would see how thankful everyone was. There was little I could find to be thankful for — there are a few things, but they were hard to see.

After work, I crossed into Minnesota. The Blue Moose Bar and Grill was hosting a turkey dinner. At least I would get my mashed potatoes and gravy.

I slowly picked through my food, knowing I barely had an appetite. The waiter asked if I wanted more, and I declined. I just wanted to get home and move on to the next day.

Then the waiter returned with a mint, but he didn’t have my bill.

“Someone has already paid for your meal.”

I looked at him in shock, wondering if he was mistaken. I asked if he was sure.

“The person who paid left this,” he said as he handed me a note.

I opened it up and read it.

“Happy Thanksgiving! God is good! You’re never alone with God!’

A smile grew across my face. I had no idea who this person was, and he didn’t know me. He couldn’t have known how alone or heartbroken I was. My heart felt so heavy yet so warm at the same time. That one act of kindness seemed to make all of my anxiety and loneliness disappear. That person will never know how happy he or she made me feel, and I can’t thank him or her enough.

I have always tried to help people when I can, but I have never been on the receiving end of an anonymous act of kindness. It wasn’t so much that I got a free meal. I was that someone reminded me that no matter how alone I may feel, there is always someone looking out for me, and there are people kind enough to care.

Despite the awful things that humans can do to each other, there are those that are kind enough to put a smile on other people’s faces, even if it is in a small, simple way.

Happy Thanksgiving.

2 Responses

  1. April, it’s nice to know I wasn’t the only feeling that I was lacking something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. I also had to work (waiting tables) on Thanksgiving and also realized that Thanksgivings to come may not be like the holidays I celebrated as a kid.

    I was bitter about working and couldn’t find a reason why it would be necessary for a restaurant to be open on a holiday. It was great to talk to guests and realize they too had to work that day or night and were forced to eat out and forego celebrating Thanksgiving with their families. It’s great to get a reality check for my bitterness and hear how much that Thanksgiving dinner meant to you as well. One of our guests picked up a tab for a woman eating alone that night, too.

    It’s hard to see the good in the world when we are focused on ourselves. Great story! Thanks for sharing!

    1. April Baumgarten

      Hi, Alexandra.

      It’s OK to feel that way. As much as I hate to admit it, I sometimes feel jealous seeing other families enjoying the holidays, especially when I know I can’t see my family.

      But as one friend told me, it’s important to acknowledge those feelings and let them pass so they don’t linger. It’s something I have to work on, like many people. And it helps to remember that I do have so many things to be thankful, such as friends who support me. It may be hard at times, but as my friend said, try to focus on what you have instead of what you lost or might lose.

      P.S. Since you had to work Thanksgiving, maybe you should get the Christmas holiday off. 😉

Leave a Reply