Updated: Jan 18, 2020
If you are in the habit of asking young people “What did you get for Christmas,” like my wife does, you will appreciate what happened to us a few days ago. We know a special young man, whom I will call Sam. Well, sometime back, he told me he was turning thirty. When driving through our little village, we often see him with his tricycle bike and his cargo basket on the back packed with recyclable bottles and cans he’s foraged from the sides of the road or elsewhere. He also spends some time near the local garbage dumpsters, because people do throw away the darnedest things, don’t they? Sometimes he finds treasures there.
One time he came to our garage sale and bought a small boombox radio/CD player for one dollar. I told him the CD player didn’t work. A month later I ran into him when he waved me down and I stopped to talk. He showed his broad smile, and said, “You remember I was at your house one time and you remember that boombox I bought?”
I said, “Yes, I remember.”
“Well, the CD player works now!”
I inquired how that happened and he said, proudly, “I fixed it, and now it works!”
That’s just like Sam. He is excited to find cast-off items that others considered to be worthless. But he sees value in those things and earns some money that way. Sam manages his life without much help from others and seems to always be happy.
But perhaps you are wondering about my mention of Christmas. A couple weeks ago, he was standing with his tricycle along the street waving at cars as he often does. So we stopped for a moment to say hello. When we asked if he had a good Christmas, he responded immediately, with a loud and happy, “Yes!”.
So we asked him what had made it such a good Christmas. He said, “I got what I really wanted. You know what it was?”
We couldn’t guess.
“I got a can of pineapple chunks! That was what I really wanted!”
My wife and I were dumbfounded, but we knew his set of values was different from your average citizen. “I got a really nice tee-shirt, too,” he went on. Eagerly opening his jacket, he proudly showed off his shirt, which was emblazoned with a sports team logo.
“So you had a very good Christmas, huh?” I asked.
“Yeah, it was really nice!” he responded.
His joy made me want to share this unique experience with others. Sam finds pleasure in ordinary things that most of us would overlook. Most days he patrols the local area and finds things discarded by others. He rescues them from the dirt or decay of the roadside or the dumpster. They have value, and he sees it.
He is someone whom many people ignore because, perhaps, they think they have more important things to do. But I find him to be an important person. He has the habit of seeing value and joy in every day. I have never found a time when he doesn’t give me a joyful smile and ask me how things are going, or he reminds me that he remembers when he got that boombox from us for a dollar, and that he fixed it.
Wouldn’t most of us love to have a friend like him, someone who always has a good word to say? He radiates good news in his own special way. I think God appreciates this young man very highly, as he does each of us, even though some of us may foolishly think we are more worthy than Sam. But God knows better.
Copyright 2020 Stanley Hagemeyer