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Tell us about the time when you performed a secret random act of kindness — where the recipient of your kindness never found out about your good deed. How did the deed go down? ~ The Daily Post

OK, let’s be honest up front: A part of me finds talking about random acts of kindness to defeat the purpose. It seems a little braggy to say “Look how kind I am!” And at the same time, being kind to a stranger can bring about such a glow of happiness that it’s hard not to share.

So I’m playing along with this prompt, but I’m switching it up — This isn’t a secret act, but simply my favorite one I’ve done.

It was two or three Christmases ago, and I was in line at Kohl’s. It was either right before the holiday or right after, because all the store’s holiday merch was on major clearance, even for Kohl’s. I found a nutcracker that simply made me happy. (I love nutcrackers. I find their timeless design nostalgic and sweet, a throwback decoration in the midst of modern glamor, glitter and glitz.)

(No, these aren’t from Kohl’s. I can’t seem to pull the images, so instead, if you click on these, you’ll visit The Wooden Wagon, toys and folk art.)

As I waited in line with my purchases on the table, a mother and her son were standing in line behind me. He tugged on his mom’s shirt and pointed to my nutcracker, smiling. He reached up for it, and his mom said, “Honey, don’t touch.” Instead of grabbing for it, he started to move the lever up and down, which made the nutcracker look like he was talking.

I was watching all this, smiling. How stinkin’ adorable. Eventually, the pull of the nutcracker was too much, and the boy took him down off the counter, playing with him.

When it was my turn to check out, the boy’s mom told him he needed to give it back, and he shyly handed it up to me. I thanked him as his mom apologized to me, and I told her there was no need to be sorry.

I paid for my purchases and, before I left, I turned to the mom.

“Do you mind if I give him this?” I asked, pulling the nutcracker out of my bag.

“Oh no, you don’t have to do that!” she said.

“He got way more enjoyment out of this than I ever will. Is it OK?”

“What do you think, bud?” Mom asked him, and I handed the nutcracker to him.

The boy had completely frozen up, totally shy that the stranger was talking to him, but smiling. He reached up and grabbed his new toy. I wished them a merry Christmas and went on my way.

These days, nutcrackers make me smile even bigger than they used to.