He's ex-military. He was unemployed this year until landing a gig with the security firm where I clean. A few weeks ago his wife's appendix burst and she was hospitalized for a full three weeks. She just went home a few days ago but will have to return to the hospital for surgery after Christmas.
They have a 13 year old son.
Things have not always been this tough but, for now, it is what it is. He has no money to buy his son a Christmas present.
He went to the Salvation Army and asked for help – simply so his son will not awaken on Christmas morning to an empty stocking. They asked what his son would like and the boy had only two requests, either a Super Mario Brothers video game or a remote control car. A few days went by and the Salvation Army called. He could come pick up his gift.
When he got home to wrap his single present he discovered it was a toy perfect for a little boy. A boy about the age of five.
Is a completely age inappropriate toy unwrapped on Christmas morning worse than no toy at all? The father was thankful for the Salvation Army's generosity but hesitant to hurt his son even more.
He confessed his confusion while we cleaned.
He determined that if he could not return the toy to the Meijer's where it was purchased and trade it for something else he would place it in the Toys For Tots bin inside the warehouse facility where we worked so that another child would have something under their tree.
And so, when we drove up to the guard shack last night at 9:30 and dropped off a Super Mario Brothers video game in a plastic bag with a quiet wish for a Merry Christmas, we saw a 6'4" man, dressed as a security guard, weep.
And, that's what keeps me going this holiday week.