A chain reaction of kindness began when a stranger paid for my Christmas decorations at a Brewer store this week.

It's one of those things you read about, but rarely get to see up close. I was shopping for some decorative touches for the house, when I walked up to the registers, with my six items, and found that the lesser of two evils was to get in line behind a woman who had about 35 items of her own. I didn't mind standing in line and, actually, was really impressed with how quickly the cashier was ringing things up. As she got to the end of what appeared to be holiday gifts, the customer said the most amazing thing. "I want to pay it forward," the stranger said, " and pay for this lady's purchase."

I was dumbfounded. Of course, I immediately told her she didn't have to do that, but she just smiled and said "Merry Christmas." I thanked her and wished her a Merry Christmas, as she walked out the door, and then turned to the cashier and echoed her sentiment. The woman behind me broke into a huge smile and even hugged me, wishing me a Merry Christmas before I paid for her purchase. Ironically, it added up to just over $6.

Tears came to my eyes, and a huge smile to my face as I walked out the door and heard that lovely woman in line behind me tell the cashier that she would pay for the next lady's purchase. It doesn't take much to keep the spirit of the holidays alive. Buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you at the drive-through. Hold the door open for someone laden down with packages. Or just smile at people, as you pass, and say hello. Trust me, I'll hold that sweet stranger's gesture in my heart for a long time.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.