TOWNSEND -- Have you ever seen that commercial on television that shows a person performing a random act of kindness like picking up something that a stranger has dropped or holding someone back from stepping off the curb where a car was driving up?
Someone sees the small, selfless act, and the scene cuts to that other person doing the same for someone else, and so on?
No? Then what about that scene from the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird," where walking home from school, Jem notices a trinket hidden in the knothole of a tree in front of the old Radley place? Each day after that, he returns and finds other little things in the knot hole put there by an unknown, kindly stranger.
In keeping with the season, something like that has happened in of all places, Gilchrist Road in Townsend.
There, a small pine tree struggling to grow from the dead stump of a much older predecessor, was recently found mysteriously decorated like the more famous one in the television perennial "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
"The tree has been there for years," reported a local resident upon discovering the tree on a walk one recent morning. "Growing inside the trunk of a dead tree. I noticed that it had been decorated with small ornaments and tinsel a few weeks back. Then on another morning walk, I noticed a blue scarf had been added around the tiny trunk. I thought it was so pretty and what a thoughtful thing to do.
The anonymous nature of the decorating, the unspoken expression of good will offered to anyone who happened to pass by the lonely stretch of wooded roadway, prompted a like response from at least one resident who noticed.
"Moved by the spirit of the offering, my daughter and I decided to add a nativity scene ... Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus underneath along with a card that we attached to the tree," said the resident, who in keeping with the originator of the decorated tree, preferred to remain anonymous herself. "Since then, more tinsel had been added and a foil star is on the top."
When asked what she thought motivated the unknown person to decorate the tree in the first place, the resident could only guess.
"Maybe the person just wanted to spread some holiday joy around to passersby," she said. "Now when I pass by, I slow down in my car each time look at it!"
Part of the charm of the found display, said the resident, was in its sheer anonymity.
"I think it's great not knowing," she insisted. "It put a smile on my face ... made me feel good thinking that someone did this simply for the joy it would bring to others!"
And was it working with her?
"Oh yes!" was the quick reply.
And so, unlike in "To Kill A Mockingbird," in which it is eventually revealed that it was Boo Radley who had left the gifts in the tree, the good-hearted soul who first left some bulbs and tinsel on the little tree on Gilchrist Road will likely go unheralded if not unappreciated.