PAGE THREE Random Acts

Reasons to Give Thanks Are Sometimes a Surprise

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our family's car broke down on I-66 as we were on the way out of town for Thanksgiving. It was well past dark and very cold. All of us were scared, especially our 5-year-old-son, Charlie, who was certain we would be eaten by tigers.

We made our way to the next exit at Strasburg, Va., and found a room at the Fairfield Inn. We thought we'd spend the night there, and then rent a car the next day to continue our trip. But we soon learned that renting a car on Thanksgiving would not be an option; we were stranded in Strasburg for the holiday.

We tried to console our kids about missing Thanksgiving with their grandmother and cousins. They had been looking forward to this trip for weeks. We tried to make the most of the chance to teach them that life doesn't always work according to our plans, and that despite our disappointment, we should be grateful. After all, we were safe, and we had the means to pay for a nice, clean hotel, as well as meals and car repairs. We told them that although this wasn't the Thanksgiving we had expected, it would certainly be a holiday we would never forget. We soon found out how true that was.

Just as we were headed out for a walk to investigate our options for Thanksgiving dinner, a young woman walked in the door with a large box and said quietly, "I've got your Thanksgiving dinner here." It took us a minute to register that in the box was a hot feast from the local Cracker Barrel: turkey, stuffing, several vegetables and side dishes, cranberry sauce, biscuits, and a whole pumpkin pie. The woman was a hotel employee who had heard about our situation and decided to salvage our holiday completely on her own.

We were all deeply moved and thanked her profusely, but after setting us up at a table with this delicious feast, she disappeared almost as quietly as she had appeared, simply saying, "I couldn't let you all have your Thanksgiving dinner at Burger King or Denny's."

What an act of grace, and an opportunity to remind ourselves that there are angels among us.

-- Courtney Billet, Bethesda

Before leaving my parking space at the Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport garage, I noted where my car was parked: section 5B, space number 245. After meeting my mother at baggage claim, I spent over 30 minutes walking up and down row 5B trying to locate my vehicle. The numbers at the end of row 5B only went up to 170. I was frantic. Here was my mother waiting patiently outside the terminal and I couldn't locate my car!

Out of nowhere appeared a woman and her husband who offered to help me. She said the same thing had happened to her. After driving around for several minutes, we located my car. The numbers were correct but the row was in a different part of level B. I couldn't thank this sweet, kind couple enough.

-- Bonnie Howe, Annapolis

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