By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Sometimes it’s the small, unexpected surprises that can most make your day. And there’s perhaps no better time for a little moment of joy than December, when the Christmas spirit seems to make everything brighter and better. In fact, it was a quick moment after a Christmas-themed event just last week when I received a pleasant surprise, though at first, it appeared to be something else entirely.
You see, I, like thousands of others, had gathered along Padre Boulevard to watch the annual lighted Christmas Parade. Things couldn’t have been more perfect for a small town holiday parade. There were golden retrievers wearing Santa hats, and fishing boats adorned with tiny Christmas lights. There were incredibly talented kids who did long tumbling runs on the asphalt, and local dignitaries who shared words of cheer and well wishes. At the end of it all was Santa Claus, taking a brief pre-Christmas vacation on South Padre Island, waving from atop a shiny red fire engine.
Not long after, the crowd began to disperse to continue on with their Friday evening plans. I packed up my camera equipment and prepared to go home. Figuring the traffic would be heavy, I waited in my car for a few moments in the dimness of a restaurant parking lot before heading out. But as I exited the lot some minutes later, I saw another driver around the corner trying to leave, too. With the exit directly in front of me I tapped my horn to let the driver know I was there. I drive a small car and sometimes people don’t see me, after all.
As I turned onto the street, the driver followed. For a brief moment I wondered if I’d upset them by honking. But everyone else was traveling down Gulf Boulevard to avoid the traffic on the main thoroughfare, too, so I put the worry aside. But, as the line of cars finally made its way to Padre Boulevard, the driver was still behind me. The worry again rose to the surface of my mind.
At a traffic light, they pulled up into the turning lane right next to me. I could feel eyes on me; I tried to avoid turning my head to look. A second later, though, I could see movement out of my peripheral vision. “Oh no,” I thought, “I really did upset them by honking.”
With more than a little trepidation I turned my head to the left. As I suspected, the driver was saying something, speaking animatedly. But as I looked closer I realized it was someone I knew. I rolled down my window and was finally able to hear what she was saying.
“You rock!” she said with a huge smile on her face.
I sank back into my seat with relief and began to laugh, the smile on my own face warming my cheeks.
“Thank you!” I said back. “I hope you have a merry Christmas!”
Just then, our light turned green and it was time to go again. I rolled up my window, still chuckling quietly to myself. And just like that, a moment I had feared to be a grinchy one was instead a glad one.
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