It happens every year, about this time.

The bright green leaves hit every shade on the spectrum involving yellow and red, and it seems the sunsets have a little extra punch — or maybe it’s just that, with the time having changed, we’re more likely to see them.

As the leaves come down, the Christmas decorations go up — a nearby shopping center is already decked out with giant wreaths, and my mailbox and newspaper are packed with catalogs from hopeful merchants.

With a chill in the air, the thought of firing up the gas logs follows quickly. That proved to be a conundrum this year when the pilot light refused to remain lit. I managed to take the assemblage apart and diagnose the problem — or at least guess that the thermocouple had gone bad. Trying to avoid a service call, I had to go to the fifth place before I found someone who had something similar. It didn’t fit the mount, but I managed to wire the thing in place and, voila! Toast city.

I gave thanks, not just the the satisfaction of a small victory in the self-sufficiency department, but for the guy who helped me find the thermocouple. It came from a bin of old parts and was out of its wrapper. The gentleman didn’t charge anything, but said, “Just take this home and try it. If it works, ‘Merry Christmas!'”

Where the spirit of generosity is, Christmas can’t be far behind.

[Speaking of which, if you haven’t seen this video about a real “Secret Santa,” it’s well worth 3 1/2 minutes of your time.)

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