A whole new meaning to Secret Santa.

Christmas is just around the corner and that gets many people feeling warm inside. Unfortunately, some face the harsh reality of not being able to pay their bills and getting their utilities shut off. When that happens, not even the Christmas spirit can keep you warm enough through the cold winter nights.

However, the Christmas spirit that is ablaze in others can sometimes spread like a wildfire, wrapping everyone in a blanket of warmth and comfort, reminding us all what the true meaning of the holidays are.

Such was the case when Michael Esmond went to pay his utility bill earlier this month.

The owner of a successful spa in Gulf Breeze, Florida, 73-year-old Michael is very much an old-fashion man. He still likes doing things the way he always knew how, and as such, he still manually pays his monthly bills.

As he read over his utility bill, he noticed something that bothered him; the due date. The bill was due the 26th of December, which basically meant that anyone who was not able to pay their bills by that date would not have gas to heat up their homes during the holidays.

A trip down the memory lane

As soon as Esmond saw the date on that bill, he had flashbacks to a time when he was having a hard time with his bills. “Back in the ’80s I actually lived that; I experienced a time where I had trouble paying bills. And we actually had the gas disconnected. It happened to be one of the coldest winters in history.” He states.

Esmond did not want anyone else to experience what he went through, especially during the holiday season. So, he contacted the city of Gulf Breeze and learnt how many families were about to get their gas cut off during Christmas. He then immediately took initiative and paid the balance for all 36 families.  

City of Gulf Breeze did not want this to be a silent deed which would be forgotten. They prepared gift cards for each of the families, which would be sent to their addresses instead of the late notices.

But apparently, Esmond had no clue what the city was up to, and was quite shocked when people started calling his business to thank him.

According to Esmond, this was just a small gesture with the hopes of encouraging other business to do similar things and give back to the people.

Surprised by the amount of support and gratitude he was receiving, he said “I just wanted to do something this time of the year, to do something to help families that really needed help.”

The families who received the cards were also caught quite off guard. While they were preparing for a cold holiday season, they miraculously found out their bills were paid off by a complete stranger. This kind gesture even got Gulf Breeze’s utility supervisor in tears and she added “For someone like him, a veteran to come in and do some grand gesture. It was heartfelt for me.”

While almost everyone in Gulf Breeze is happy to have a nice and warm Christmas, Esmond just hopes that people can see the true message of his gesture. If we are able to help others in their time of need, we should.