When a storm is coming, all other birds seek shelter. The eagle alone avoids the storm by flying above it. So, in the storms of life may your heart be like an eagle’s and soar above.” – Author Unknown

The Secret Santa Tradition


secret santa

How one Secret Santa inspired many others to “pay it forward”.

During the winter of 1971, young Larry Stewart from Mississippi was at the end of his rope.  The college dropout was out of both work and money.  He’d been staying in his car for more than a week and had not eaten for two days when he walked into Dixie Diner and ordered a big meal.

When his bill came, he claimed to have lost his wallet.  When the owner walked to the counter,  Stewart braced for the worst.

To his amazement, though, the owner dropped a $20 bill into his hand and said, “You must have dropped this.”  The drifter decided right then to honor the stranger’s kindness by helping others in need whenever he could.

Fast forward to Christmas a decade later in Kansas City, Missouri.  Over the holidays, a mysterious stranger started showing up in bus stations, thrift stores, laundromats, and skid-row motels, handing out $100 bills to people down on their luck.  With a hurried “Merry Christmas”, the Secret Santa would walk away before the startled recipient of the gift could ask who he was.

This went on for 26 years.  Finally, in 2006, the Secret Santa  revealed himself.  He was none other than Larry Stewart, a successful businessman who had made a fortune in telecommunications. He estimated that he had given away more than 1.3 million dollars over the years to needy people all over the United States.  After 9/11, he went to New York.  In 2002, he went to Washington , D.C shortly after the region was traumatized by sniper attacks.  In 2003, he travelled to San Diego, California to help others after the San Diego fires.

Why had the legendary Secret Santa decided to reveal  his identity?  Stewart had been diagnosed with cancer and wanted other Secret Santa’s to continue his work.  He died in 2007, but others have continued the tradition.  Every  holiday season, Secret Santa’s fan out all over the United States.  Like Larry Stewart, they hand out $100 bills to people in need.  The only request is that the recipient pass on the kindness in whatever way they can.

Soar like an eagle over life’s storms this Christmas.  Be a Secret Santa and help others any way you can, even if you cannot hand out $100 bills to people in need.

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If you like this post, remember that BJ writes for children.  Her book Near a River is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.

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"Each reader's heart is like an eagle's and can soar above the storms in life..." - Near a River's Author, BJ Rae.

Written with uplifting words of encouragement, Near a River is a photographic children's book about two young bald eagles who are eager for their mother to teach them to fly so they may soar over the storms in their lives. Near a River encourages early childhood reading. BJ hopes that every child becomes a strong reader and soars above the storms in life.

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