The day after Thanksgiving, I arrived at the airport at 4 a.m. with my husband, Kevin, and our four young children in tow. We had spent a wonderful week with grandparents in snowy Colorado, and the early departure time back to Los Angeles was the only semi-affordable option. We were all a bit tired and grumpy, but my 8-year-old son, who has autism, was especially agitated. In fact, he had a few loud outbursts that drew stares from fellow travelers.
Long gone are my days of strolling through an airport, purchasing a magazine and candy bar, and leisurely people-watching or reading while I wait to board my plane. Nowadays, travel looks more like a special ops mission where the objective is to keep the small people in my care from any major altercations or meltdowns. (Me too, if I’m honest.)
That morning, the airport was nearly silent with only a few coffee shops open as we made a noticeable (and loud) entrance to our gate. The only thing that seemed to quiet my frazzled 8-year-old was riding on the people mover. So Kevin stayed with the younger children while Josiah and I stepped onto the moving walkway.
It was on our second journey away from our gate that the first soft strains of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” broke the silence. At first I thought the airport had turned on the music. But on our return trip, I saw him — a well-dressed man wearing a purple shirt and a black vest. The fellow traveler had opened up his luggage and was playing Christmas music on his violin.
People gathered around, enjoying the unexpected performance and taking videos on their phones. I watched as their travel-weary expressions melted into smiles. We all felt we were seeing something special.
As my son and I embarked on our third journey down the terminal’s walkway, I got a little teary-eyed, thinking of how this man’s simple offering was exactly what I needed that morning. After a harried experience checking in and going through security with four young children, the man’s impromptu concert was a true gift to my soul. Kind of like the airport worker at the coffee stand who, after seeing my son make a scene earlier, smiled and told me, “Your babies are beautiful.”
At different times in my life, my challenges have been different. When I was single, holidays were hard because I lived the harsh reality of facing another Christmas alone. Sometimes being home with family exacerbated the discontent I already felt. But whether my angst stems from being single or wrangling children, kindness is everything.
I have been blessed over and over again through the kindness of others. It sustained me through a chronic illness. It got me through my baby’s hospital stay. It lifted my spirits on some really rotten days. As we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, this time of year can threaten to be nothing more than a to-do list on overdrive. All the hustle and bustle can cause us to be hurried and harsh, even with those we love the most.
But each Christmas season is a gift. It is a chance to reflect on what matters most — God’s great kindness to us in sending His Son, Jesus. It’s also a chance to tune in to those around us — family, friends and even strangers — and extend kindness. I’m sure my fellow travelers carried many burdens, just as I did. I’ve heard it said that we have no idea the battles others are fighting, so we should always be kind. That is exactly what this musician chose to do as he shared his gift with a group of early-morning travelers.
As we waited to board the plane, the strains of one of my favorite carols drifted to my ears — Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright … Thanks to this stranger, I felt those words in a new way. One person’s kindness can make all the difference. As I celebrate Christmas, I want to spread that kindness in my own ways to bless others the way I have been blessed.
Copyright 2019 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.