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The Strangers Who Cared

It was to be our second Christmas in Germany and we decided to avoid the naked tree problem that we had the year before. We tried ordering an artificial tree from the States, only to learn that the packaging was too big to send through the A.P.O. mail system. We then wrote to my father, and he agreed to purchase a tree for us. He would ship it to us in several smaller boxes.

Two days before Christmas we were in a panic. All the boxes that my father had sent us had arrived except for one. The tree trunk and stand were still missing. We rushed out to buy a live tree, only to find what was left on the tree lot at that late date made the tree from the year before look great. We decided to wait one more day.

Meanwhile, in Bremerhaven, a young mail clerk spotted a long thin box under a counter. He picked it up and saw the customs tag which read 'artificial Christmas tree trunk and stand'. He realized that someone in Mannheim would be without a tree for Christmas. He felt sorry for them, but there wasn't much he could do. It took at least a day to process the mail and get it to Mannheim. He was closing up now and there was no delivery on Christmas.

He put the package on the proper shelf and headed to the snack bar for a cup of coffee. The place was crowded and he ended up sharing a table. Two men were speaking and the clerk discovered that one of his companions at the table was stationed in Mannheim. He had just picked up the car he had shipped from the States and was driving back that afternoon. The clerk thought of the package and said to the man, "You could really play Santa for someone in Mannheim tonight if you'd like to." He explained about the lost tree trunk. The man agreed to deliver it and the two walked to the mail room to retrieve the package.

Back in Mannheim, we were frantically trying to devise some way to put our tree together. We were thinking of chicken wire and drilled broom handles, but couldn't come up with a workable solution. By dinner time we gave up.

It looked as if we were doomed to settle for the dregs of the Boy Scout lot or no tree at all. My husband was reaching for his coat when the door bell rang. There stood a stranger holding a long thin carton, our tree trunk. He explained about the clerk and the snack bar meeting. We invited him in, but it was Christmas Eve and he was in a hurry to get home to his own family.

He left quickly before we had a chance to get his name.

We never did find out who they were, our Santa with the package, or the thoughtful mail clerk in Bremerhaven. The next day as we watched our little boy's eyes light up at the sight of our beautiful tree, I whispered a little prayer:

"Bless those two strangers who brightened our Christmas with their kindness." (c) www.forbetterlife.org  
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