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The Boot That (almost) Stole Christmas

The Boot That (almost) Stole Christmas

In a flurry of holiday preparation I made a bold leap to the top of a closet to stash a box of decorations out of the way.  Somewhere mid-flight the crate I used as my launching pad gave way and I came crashing to the floor.  The moment I landed I knew my right foot would not bear an ounce of weight and I silently mumbled “Merry Christmas to me” under my breath and then yelled for help.

This year I am giving winter boot season a whole new meaning and sporting an orthopedic contraption on my foot that enables me to move freely, yet slowly along my merry holiday way.

For the first few days I was committed to keeping a great attitude, but as Christmas drew closer, my holiday cheer seemed to be fading away.   Everything I needed to accomplish was taking twice as long and my patience was wearing thin.  I began to feel as if the boot was actually draining Christmas joy from my body.

I knew I needed to make a last minute mental adjustment or instead of the Grinch who stole Christmas I would be living out my own rendition of the boot that stole Christmas.  If Dr. Seuss’s hardhearted mean-spirited Grinch could turn things around then so could I.

Fortunately, as if on cue, I met a Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringer who helped me put things into perspective.  I was hobbling my way into a store with I am sure the grinchiest of attitudes when he stopped mid ring to ask me what happened. I reluctantly shared my story and as if I was in a momentary therapy session expressed my concern about my less than stellar attitude.

He smiled warmly and without judgment shared that he could never be down at Christmas because for decades he had been ringing the bell for the Army.  In fact just the year before he had had double knee replacement but it was not going to keep him from his holiday tradition of helping others.  Apparently he had to receive special permission to sit on a walker, rather than stand to fulfill his duties.  There was not a single hint of the Grinch in him, and he said that was one of his best years on the bell. He felt so grateful that the surgery had not held him back and it made him appreciate this year in a new and special way.

It also gave him the empathy to reach out to this Grinch as she made her way past his kettle, and gives her the attitude adjustment she desperately needed and the inspiration to pass it on to others facing much greater challenges than a bionic boot. If you are looking for ways to pay it forward this holiday season, I’d like to hear from you, [email protected]


Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.   – from The Grinch That Stole Christmas

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More