Last week I was suffering from holiday fatigue, trying to check everything off my list while working even longer hours at the office to close projects and do some 2016 planning. I’d think about finding my true holiday spirit while sitting at a red light or hurrying to cram in a little shopping, then it would be swallowed up with daily responsibilities. I was so tired one morning, I decided to just pick up my breakfast in the Starbucks drive-thru. Forget budgeting, forget calorie counting - I had a 7 a.m. call at work and making breakfast at home was out of the question.

As I sat in the Starbucks line thinking about what I needed to accomplish that day, setting the Starbucks app on my phone to “pay”, I wondered, impatiently, what the person in front of me had ordered. A hand with a phone emerged again and again from the driver’s side window to scan, followed by cash. I thought perhaps her phone app wasn’t working. But it felt as thought it was taking forever to move forward.

“I always get stuck behind these kind of people,” I grumbled, thinking of how I’d end up in line behind someone arguing about a coupon in the grocery store or paying separately for five items at the department store.

Finally, the car drove away and it was my turn. I thrust my arm out into the 30 degree temperatures to have the bar code scanned, get my breakfast, and get going to the office.

“The lady in front of you paid for everyone in line,” the barrista said.

“Why?” I asked without thinking.

“She’s just paying it forward, I guess.”

And so I took my breakfast and drove away thinking I’d gotten “stuck” behind the best kind of person. The kind of person who helps me get my own thinking back in line and remember the reason for the season is to pay it forward.

Since then I’ve donated to the local food bank and my favorite cancer organization, sent a surprise cash gift to a friend down on her luck, lobbied for better funding for cancer research. It’s not much. I could always do better.

Perhaps the reason for the Christmas season it to remind us to find ways, large and small, to pay it forward for everyone in line behind us.


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