I am a first time father of a five year old boy who is the victim of a somewhat bitter custody battle. Separation anxiety and the realization that his parents are now apart has recently begun to settle in for him emotionally in truly heartbreaking and moving moments that have sparked pools of tears from this normally calm and cool father. To say that I love my son doesn’t seem to adequately convey how much he has enriched my life. In the midst of all of this heartache I wanted to share a holiday gesture, from a stranger on eBay, that not only brought tears of comfort to my eyes, but could potentially result in a smoother court experience for my small family.
I have been out of work for only several months. Money near spent, bills piling, and custody disagreements on the horizon, I decided to sell a few items on eBay in order to, at least, give my son a memorable Christmas through a very stress filled experience with his parents. Being new to eBay, I searched to find out what screen printed concert posters sell for. I had an old Jay Ryan print that I picked up at a show in San Francisco in 1998 and I thought it might fetch a few hundred bucks for me to use toward my son’s Christmas day. So I posted the sale about a month ago, waiting with fingers crossed.
An offer was made by a gentlemen on the East coast. I accepted and processed my first sale for $225.00. Not very much, but well more than I had stewing in my broke and angry bank account. I printed the shipping label, placed the poster in a tube, and eagerly awaited the much needed funding.
Following the weekend I received a message from eBay letting me know that a dispute had been opened. The tube had been damaged, thereby rendering the print worthless. The buyer naturally requested a refund, but was kind enough to ask only $175.00. Immediately realizing that my son’s Christmas day was in jeopardy, I tearfully responded that I would, of course, refund his account after receiving pictures of the subsequent damage.
This custody battle has stripped so much of my resolve…caused so much personal pain. I had also learned that, as a result of the tensions from this legal experience, my son might not be spending the holiday season with me. I shared my pain with the buyer, turning what must be a routine transaction into a sort of therapy session.
I refunded the amount asked and accepted that the transaction was through…that my hope for my son’s holiday was effectively squashed. A mere few hours later, those funds were transferred back to me along with original difference. Confused, and thinking there must be some mistake on my part, I checked my email to discover that this buyer gave me a holiday gift that cannot be quantified nor measured. Not only had he returned the refund owed him, he did so with the understanding and empathy of a parent. This email was what greeted me yesterday evening:
The money came through, thanks for being so quick with this and professional even in this difficult personal time.
I’m in a holiday mood and have two young children of my own, so I’m sending you the money back along with a little extra, Merry Christmas! Best of luck to you and your son.
I was so moved to tears, once again in the day.
As a result of this kindness, my selfishness began to ease. I was no longer trapped within the pain of my situation. Even more I was afforded a brief visit with my son after reading the email sent me. The email…this wonderful gesture…gave me the resolve approach my wife with our son truly in focus. We had been sharing custody before our upcoming court dates, but live three hours apart. It has not been easy for either of us. At any rate I brought up the possibility of helping her move to the same city, giving our son the benefit of both parents who love him all their hearts. It may not be an easy road, but today I feel there’s a real possibility for something workable.
I was so impressed by this small, yet enormous holiday gesture, that I could not allow it to go unrecognized or unshared. It’s not much, but I feel it shows that the Christmas spirit is still thriving in world that surely needs the smallest of gestures.
Thank you, James!