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Santa comes in many forms. For many, Santa is the jolly man in red with a grand, fluffy snow-white beard who delivers hope and good tidings. For me, Santa wears a puffy blue ski jacket.

Santa found me sobbing in a CVS parking lot last week. I was trying to leave the parking lot and nearly backed into an oncoming car. I thought the coast was clear, but apparently it was not, and the driver of the other car let me know with a sour scowl.

I scooted back into my space to allow the driver plenty of room to pass. No worries. It happens.

After the driver passed, I checked for clearance and began to back out of the space again when I was met with a large white van trying to do the same. OK, I thought, maybe I’m not supposed to leave this parking lot. I pulled back into my space.

It wasn’t the feeling of being trapped in a CVS parking lot that got me emotional, but it was all the little stresses in my life that I’d been putting into brightly wrapped packages over the past few weeks. Fake it until you make it – that’s my motto.

I know the holidays can be nerve-wracking, but this parking lot do-si-do was all my heart could take.

The tears came fast and hard as I leaned forward to hug onto my steering wheel. Maybe it was the mounting deadlines at work. Maybe it was a holiday shopping list that overflowed in my mind. Maybe it was the dreaded thought of finding the right outfit to wear to my husband’s Christmas work party. Whatever it was, it was too much. I was about to slip into the throes of a blubbery ugly cry.

But then there was a knock on my window. A bearded gentleman wearing a classic red Santa hat and sunglasses was behind my car waving for me to back out of the parking space. I wiped my tears away in a hurry and followed his lead and slowly backed out of the space. After I was safely out of the space, I gave a wave and he nodded in response. I drove away and I assume Santa went about his day.

My Santa didn’t know how much that simple act of ushering me out of a parking space at a local drug store would mean to me, but it offered a spark of hope in a moment when I was overcome with a feeling of loneliness and self-doubt. By now, I’m sure my Santa has forgotten about me and what he did for me, but I will remember.

I think we all have the capability to be a Santa to someone. And it doesn’t have to be only at Christmastime. The gift of kindness comes at no cost, and it is something we can all give if we can only find it within ourselves and within our hearts.

To all the Santas out there, your gift of kindness comes with no wrapping or bows, but your ability to embody the spirit of the season in little everyday ways means more than you know.

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Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.

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Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.