Dear Mr. B, or the man who lives in the valley below my house,
I know who you are because of your career success and the distinguishing fact that you are a multi-millionaire. You have received the common accolades, the press, the gossip, that comes with notoriety. When you created success, you created interest.
My daughter even went to school with one of your sons. But none of the above is why I address my thoughts to you on his piece of paper.
Every year, for the past 18 years, Thanksgiving evening or the day after Thanksgiving or even in the week after, I have looked out my picture windows and have seen your corner of the world, a mansion on an acre or two or three, lit up in holiday splendor. Not just a string of lights here and there but a beacon of light, color and joy. You have been the beginning of the Christmas season.
The first year looking down from my house, my family and I were enchanted by your creation. We probably got in the car and drove the two minute drive for a close-up. We may have even parked the car and walked past your high block walls, your iron gates, to see inside your winter wonderland. It was as enchanting up close as it was from far away. Every tree, every parapet, every window, every bush and fountain was strung with Christmas lights.
After so many years of silent gratitude, I even sent you a letter. I wasn't pretentious; I addressed the letter to you even though you didn't have a clue who I might have been. I thanked you for the splendor, for the joy we had looking down on your city of Christmas lights. I signed my name--first only--and left off my address; I wanted it to be anonymous of sorts--I just truly wanted you to know I appreciated your eye for beauty, for magic, for my gratitude to you for sharing your bounty.
This year, it was the first of December when your corner of the world remained dark still. I searched again and again. It was as if Christmas had been shut down. Did you forget? Did you no longer care?
And then I imagined the worst. Are you ill? Sad? Did you lose a loved one? Is there no more reason to celebrate?
I am tempted again to send you a letter; a letter from the somewhat anonymous woman on the hill above your house who misses your Christmas lights. But how could I convey it isn't the lights I care about? In admiration for the pleasure you have shared for so many years, I have come to care about you--stranger that you are--for this is what gratitude and the Christmas spirit bring: love, care and joy, for all mankind.