Carol Gallagher, vice president of sales and marketing for Spirit Cruises, commutes weekly to the East Coast. Because her Friday flight out of Norfolk, Va., ran four hours late...

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Carol Gallagher, vice president of sales and marketing for Spirit Cruises, commutes weekly to the East Coast. Because her Friday flight out of Norfolk, Va., ran four hours late, the Sammamish resident missed her Pittsburgh-Seattle connection and spent the night in Pennsylvania.

“I got on a morning flight Saturday that was full of cheery holiday travelers,” she said. “I felt like the lone and troddened business traveler. The five-hour flight was packed, but I luckily had an aisle seat.”

When a man sat down in the middle seat, he asked Gallagher and the woman with the window seat if either one would switch seats with his wife. The other woman gave a firm no. Gallagher also refused.

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But she began chatting with the man. He was in the military. It was the family’s first trip home to Seattle in five years.

When the conversation waned, Gallagher walked to his wife’s row and switched seats, telling the woman, “Merry Christmas.”

“She was so grateful I thought she was going to cry,” Gallagher said. “As I began my five-hour flight in a cramped middle seat, I felt assured that I will not have coal in my stocking on Christmas morning.”

Sleigh bells for Sarah

Frank Shiers of Bellevue has been reading “The Polar Express” to his 28-month-old daughter, Sarah. (In a 2-year-old’s typical fashion, that means they read it again and again and again.) At one point in the book, Santa Claus holds up a sleigh bell. That’s Sarah’s cue to hold up a toy bell and ring it, welcoming Christmas.

Recently she asked her daddy for a real sleigh bell. So when Shiers and Sarah were shopping at Top Foods in Bellevue, they asked at the floral department for sleigh bells. The store stocked only jingle bells.

Floral manager Dara Cave did some investigating and finally found the right bell.

Remember the holiday movie, “Miracle on 34th Street”? In that classic, the Macy’s Santa directs parents to other stores that stock toys their children want. Cave did the same thing. She called Shiers and sent him to another Bellevue florist that stocked sleigh bells.

Seasonal touch

Folks from Eastridge Christian Assembly of Issaquah and the Issaquah Albertsons made a dynamite team Saturday. They split the costs to give Christmas dinner to 1,000 needy families.

“We gave them a turkey and a bag of groceries,” said the Rev. Steve Jamison, pastor of the 1,200-member congregation. “We’re not solving their problems, but they’ll have a holiday dinner.”

Jamison added that they didn’t ask for proof of need. They alerted people to the giveaway through the Issaquah Food Bank, media announcements and fliers left in areas of low-income housing.

“We had volunteers with big placards by the freeway exit on Front Street,” the pastor said. “One man told us he saw the huge sign and thought the panhandlers had gotten rather aggressive until he got close enough to read it.”

Albertsons and the church also donated more than 20 pallets of groceries to the Issaquah Food Bank.

“We collect an offering the Sunday before Thanksgiving to do this,” Jamison said. “This is the second year we’ve done it, and we’re considering expanding it next year. Food is such a blessing.”

Wish list?

Nan Connolly of Redmond hopes for this driver’s sake Santa is taking notes. She was on Interstate 90 when she spotted a blonde in a green Honda Accord.

The license-plate frame read:

“My Next Husband

“Will Be Normal”

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or