Thinking of the spirit of the season

At this time of year, the phrase “it’s the thought that counts” is often repeated but less frequently demonstrated.

Two wire-service reports this week demonstrate just what those words mean.

One story crossed the news wire Tuesday regarding an act of sportsmanship that followed a swim meet Dec. 7. Nine-year-old Joshua Zuchowski won a first-place trophy in the Santa Claus & Holiday Spring Invitational in West Palm Beach, Fla. – and later gave the prize to his friend and rival, 10-year-old Reese Branzell.

Reese, another top swimmer in the state who swims with another team, has been ill with a bone infection for weeks and was unable to compete at the meet.

According to the article, Reese told WPBF-TV that hours after the meet, Josh sent him his trophy with a note reading: “I won this trophy for you today, and I hope to see you back in the pool.”

The other story came via The Springfield News-Sun and WHIO-TV, which reported how an anonymous donor provided $25,000 in gift cards to pay off more than 100 layaway accounts at a Walmart in Bellefontaine.

Wait; it gets better: The store manager said some customers who had been aided by the gift in turn made payments toward other shoppers’ layaway purchases.

It’s quite likely a person who can part with $25,000 is well off, financially as well as spiritually. The same can’t be said for the folks who had items on layaway, who then “paid it forward.”

Those people truly felt the spirit of Christmas. And that’s what really counts.