by Dianna Flett

After reading a post about a group that comes together to do something special each holiday, I decided to organize friends to support a local waitress with a large tip at a breakfast restaurant. Last Saturday was our breakfast of “not so Secret Santas”—or are we the elves?

I’ve posted a couple times on my Facebook page about having breakfast with friends who wanted to be “recklessly kind.” The idea was for everyone to bring a donation—$20, $50, $100…—and come together for breakfast. We would use my military ID for the 10 percent check reduction, then pay the bill and leave the tip and a gift (the extra money) for our server. The tip ensured her coworkers received their “tip out” and the gift was just that, a gift.

Great women started messaging me saying they were in, and with schedule changes and such, we came together with a group of ten women ages 9-65. We were initially seated in one section and were then moved to another. Karma at work; keep reading and you’ll understand.

Okay readers, I had started berating myself for not doing my homework to pick the specific waitress we were going to support. I’d met someone last week who was a single mom with two kids but it was a different place; another friend messaged me about a place she frequents where the mom has to bring her 2 small children two work (more on that later), and I was feeling a bit angry with myself for not being a good steward of my friends’ generosity.

Anyway, we were seated and our waitress came over to us for drink orders. We started to engage her in conversation and one woman in our group, a teacher, said “I know you” and turns out our server was in her 4th grade class a decade ago. When they started talking, our waitress said she just finished shopping (you know the old “are you ready for Christmas” question) and turns out this young woman was providing the Christmas gifts for her siblings, and helping out with her grandmother’s care. All on the earnings of a waitress. Okay now this is the cosmic part. Of course I said:

“Oh, you went to MBES? Did you do Girl Smarts?”

SHE HAD….she was one of my original Girl Smarts girls our first year of the program. That was like 10 years ago. Is that amazing!!! She told me something she remembered from the program and we all laughed. As she walked away we all just looked at each other.

“Like, is THIS WEIRD or what?!?”

After she’d served us (and she did a great job) I asked for the bill and my friend, in addition to her own donation, brought IHOP gift cards to reduce the price of our meal. She ran those on the bill and it came down to about $75 for the 10 of us. She came to me with the bill and I told her of our intention and that we wanted her to pay the remainder of the bill and include a 20 percent tip to support her coworkers and then keep the rest as a gift. Then I handed her $850.

I think she was in shock. I know I was.

This was an act of reckless kindness. A great idea, without too much structure that came together beautifully.

And my friends who joined me. My beautiful friends. One very generous community woman had an issue at work and came early to my house to drop her donation. My sister from New Jersey sent money and even our sweet nine year old, my friend’s daughter, contributed 40 dollars of her own money to the tip. After hearing about this idea, I now have other friends who have done their own meal out in lieu of a Christmas party, leaving a large tip and gift for their wait staff.

Without overthinking this too much, friends of mine, many of whom just met the morning of the event, came together with pure intent and helped someone who needed a full dose of the holiday spirit. I am thankful to my friends and so thrilled we could impact another woman to this degree.

Reckless kindness: who’d have thought things would align so well with so little planning? As we left, I saw the young woman with her peers gathered around. They were patting her on the back and giving her high fives. She was still in shock.

All of our party hugged and smiled (and perhaps wiped a tear), and the morning concluded with kindness and cheer.

Then we got in our sleighs and drove out of sight.

Merry Christmas my friends…keep spreading the light.