A woman on my street recently lost her husband. Her three kids lost their dad. I’ve never met any of them, but I find myself thinking about what I could possibly do to let them know I care about the pain they are going through.

What small gesture could I do that would really mean all that much?

I just got a letter from the editor of a Wimbledon, N.D., newsletter. She shared a story that got me thinking: Sometimes it’s not the size of the gesture, but the timing.

“On Dec. 1, Charlotte came home to a surprise. The day had been difficult, as she had run into friends she had not seen since her husband Bob’s funeral in early October. Memories she had pushed into her subconscious resurfaced. ‘I cried all the way home from Jamestown,’ she recalled. ‘And there, when I got home, was this big gift-wrapped basket on my back step.’

“Nestled inside the basket were 25 numbered, gift-wrapped packages. The first one instructed her to open a gift each day, and promised that the identity of her Secret Angel would be revealed with the 25th gift on Christmas Day.

“‘Anticipating each day’s gift was a bright spot,’ said Charlotte. The gifts were a bright spot for Charlotte’s friends at morning coffee, too. Monday through Saturday, Charlotte opened that day’s gift with at least one other coffee lady present. Speculation about who her benefactor could be flourished. Two likely candidates denied authorship, but added, ‘I wish I’d had the idea.’

“Finally, Christmas Day arrived. It was the first Christmas without Bob after more than 30 years of marriage. When the telephone rang, it was Charlotte’s Secret Angel, a woman named Pam, calling to wish her a Merry Christmas.

“Pam says this is actually the fourth time she and her husband and their children have been Secret Angels. ‘The first time, it was a joint project with my sister in Wisconsin, for someone in her community.’ Pam adds, ‘It’s for someone who needs a little pick-me-up. Maybe they’ve been taking chemotherapy or lost a loved one. I remember losing my dad, and the ‘first’ holidays are really tough. … It was just as much fun for us as it was for Charlotte. We were glad we were able to brighten her spirits.’

Thank you, Mary Beth Olombel, for sharing that beautiful story from Wimbledon.

And on behalf of your neighbors on Fairway Road, the ones you know and the ones you don’t know, Nancy, please know you are in our prayers.

Please, continue to share your random acts of kindness stories at nphillips15@hotmail.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.


Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.