Below is a news story in the Chicago Tribune which has me thinking. It is about Larry Stewart, secret Santa. I do not know his religious preference or if he even has any. What I do recognize is his desire to bring joy, unexpected joy, to people in the Christmas season. Take a look at the article.
While I have grave concerns about the commercialism of this time of year and about Santa, I am moved by the acts of generosity which we often witness between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This season seems to call out the best and the worst in us. We will read stories like Larry’s as well as stories of fist fights in store isles over some popular toy.
Forget Kriss Kringle-- Santa's name is Larry
By Maria Sudekum Fisher
November 20, 2006
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For 26 years, a man known only as Secret Santa has roamed the
streets every December quietly giving people money.
He started with $5 and $10 bills. As his fortune grew, so did the gifts. In recent years, Secret
Santa has been handing out $100 bills to people in thrift stores, diners and parking lots.
So far he's given out about $1.3 million. It's been a long-held holiday mystery: Who is Secret Santa?
But now, weak from chemotherapy and armed with a desire to pass on his belief in random
kindness, Secret Santa has decided it's time to reveal his identity.
He is Larry Stewart, a 58-year-old businessman from the Kansas City suburb of Lee's
Summit, Mo., who made his millions in cable television and long-distance telephone service.
His holiday giving started in December 1979, when he was nursing his wounds at a drive-in
restaurant after getting fired.
"It was cold and this carhop didn't have on a very big jacket, and I thought to myself, `I think
I got it bad. She's out there in this cold making nickels and dimes,"' he said.
He gave her $20 and told her to keep the change.
"And suddenly I saw her lips begin to tremble and tears begin to flow down her cheeks. She
said, `Sir, you have no idea what this means to me."'
Stewart went to the bank that day and took out $200. He's hit the streets each December
He allowed the news media to tag along. Reporters had to agree to guard his identity and not name his company.
NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus will join Stewart this year in Chicago when Stewart hands out $100s in honor of Buck
O'Neil, the first African-American coach in the major league baseball.
Doctors told Stewart in April that he had cancer of the esophagus and it had spread to his liver.
Now Stewart wants to inspire others to be generous. "That's what we're here for," he says, "to help other people out."
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune