About 15 years ago when my dad was working for a mid-size company in Atlanta, he had an experience I will never forget. And although it will sound like an urban legend -- something too clichéd to believe -- I assure you that it happened and that he witnessed it firsthand. It's my favorite holiday story of all time.
Dad's company participated in the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program every year. The largein their lobby was filled with Angels, and the employees eagerly grabbed them at the first opportunity. That year was no exception. All of the Angels had been "adopted," and the hallway was literally overflowing with bags of new, unwrapped gifts labeled with each child's name.
My dad had an international guest that December who was unfamiliar with the program. Seeing all of the unwrapped gifts under the tree, he asked why they were there. My dad explained how the Angel Tree works, and the man said, "I'd love to participate. Is it too late?" My dad answered that all of the Angels had been taken care of and that the truck was coming to pick up the gifts that afternoon -- but that he was absolutely sure that if the man wanted to buy something, they could put it under the tree and it would go to anotherwhose needs might not have been met.
That afternoon, the man made a trip across the street to the mall, carefully weighing the toy options at hand. Ultimately, he chose something he knew his own 8-year-old daughter would like … a pink bicycle with a basket on the front. He toted it back to the office and pulled up just as the truck was loading the toys and preparing to depart. Dad helped him get the bike secured, and they headed back into the building, the man flush with pleasure.
As they walked by the tree, now empty of gifts, my dad noticed a lone Angel that had fallen off the tree at some point and been covered up by gifts. Unfortunately, nothing was purchased for the Angel since it hadn't been seen. Wordlessly, my dad passed it over to his guest. It was for an 8-year-old girl, and the Needs she'd listed were fairly standard … a winter coat, socks, pants. But she had listed only one Want, a pink bicycle with a basket.
And as his eyes rested on the top of the Angel, they filled up with tears … her name was Faith.