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christmas, holiday spirit, mary katherine backstrom

Mary Katherine Backstrom accidentally shared her Christmas joy with the wrong person at a gas station.

This article was first published on 12.09.19.

What's better than a heartwarming story of holiday cheer? How about a heartwarming story that turns out to be a hilarious moment of holiday embarrassment?

When Mary Katherine Backstrom of Fort Myers, Florida, decided to do a good deed for a stranger in a gas station convenience store, she had no idea that her most embarrassing moment would result in a viral story viewed by millions.


It all started when the writer and mother of two was killing time at the Wawa, a local gas station and convenience store, before picking up her kids from school. She had just been reading a story on Facebook about how everyone is so generous over the holidays and how the spirit of giving lifts everyone's mood, so she decided to pass along some of that spirit to someone else. The woman behind her in line was just buying a ginger ale, so Backstrom offered to pay for it. It was a simple but lovely act of kindness, the woman was moved, and holiday magic was made.

Backstrom left the store to go back to her car, still full of the Christmas spirit, and found a man cleaning her windshield. Blown away by the magic of the holidays and the reverberating kindness of strangers, Backstrom walked up to the man, gave him a huge hug, and told him how much she loved humanity and the magic of Christmas.

Only one problem—it wasn't her car, it was his. Oh. My. Word. The awkwardness of it all.

You have to hear her tell it, complete with infectious laughter, and don't be surprised if you feel compelled to watch it over and over again. When Christmas cheer meets abject embarrassment, holiday hilarity is born.

The Facebook Live video has been viewed more than 23 million times in just a few days, and has already been shared nearly 100,000 times. Clearly people are loving it.

Backstrom told Upworthy, "I think the reason it is resonating is that the holidays can be a very hard time for adults, and we forget about the levity of holiday magic, and crave it in these times." She admits she was highly caffeinated and a little sleep deprived—as most mothers of young children are—when she hugged and gushed all over an unsuspecting stranger, but she hopes to continue to live her life "with reckless joy."

"This one moment has returned so much laughter and encouragement to my life that I have to think there is something to this," she says. "Humans miss warm interactions, even if they are a little...erm...bizarre."

Here's to the bizarre, awkward, recklessly joyful human moments that bring us all together.


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