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  • Writer's pictureLianne van der Walt

The Balloon Man

I was on gate duty at our local Christmas Carol service. Welcoming each new arrival with a program gave me the opportunity to observe all the comings and goings. My gate partner and I were intrigued when a very smart looking gentleman arrived looking dapper in a suit, crimson shirt, bow tie and a black top hat. At first, we thought he may be one of the, “Three Tenors” scheduled to sing later in the evening, but when he unpacked the trunk of his car, we were totally mystified. He unpacked three cricket bats and a unicycle…. We were speculating as to how he would incorporate these activities into his singing.

Turns out he was not one of the Three Tenors, but a juggler/entertainer for the children in the audience. Gathering around him on the steps outside of the church, the children were transfixed by his balancing and juggling skills. His act finished with him making balloon animals and pretend swords for each child.

As he was returning all his props to his car, a little girl and her older sister came running out past us. The older girl explained her little sister was very shy and had initially said she did not want an animal. Once everyone got to playing and challenging each other with their make-believe swords, she had however quickly changed her mind.

By now, all the paraphernalia had been meticulously squeezed back into the boot/trunk of the car. The entertainer wiped his streaming brow, it was 41 degrees and the heat was extreme. As he closed the trunk, the older sister asked him if he could make her little sister an animal. I held my breath expecting a lengthy explanation from the man as to why he could not unpack his car.

Instead, he stood motionless for a micro-minute, sweat streaming down his face, his crimson

shirt plastered to his back with sweat. Time stood still as I could sense the thoughts racing through his head. Re-opening the trunk, he explained to the children that this was not his usual car. His van had broken down earlier in the day and he had been forced to borrow his wife’s small car, making it difficult to fit everything in. He unpacked the entire act onto the sidewalk to access the box with the balloons. He pulled out a pink balloon and with his customary flair, quickly inflated it, twisting and turning the squeaking bubble into a beautiful little pink puppy.

The absolute delight on this little girl’s face said it all. Beaming from ear to ear, she walked back past me clutching her balloon. Such a simple act of kindness – this little moment behind the scenes epitomised the joy and love we were all tapping into on this very special evening.

The greatest gift you can give anyone this Christmas is the magic of a little kindness.

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