Here’s how a $500 tip ‘saved Christmas’ for a single mom in Maine

Trisha Murphy didn't know how she'd afford Christmas presents after an unexpected expense.

Trisha Murphy and her children
Trisha Murphy (left) with three of her children and one of their friends. –Courtesy Trisha Murphy

When a customer at Denny’s in Ellsworth, Maine, told Trisha Murphy he was going to be Santa, the waitress thought it was an uncomfortable joke. When he paid his bill, however, he gave her a $500 tip that will change Christmas for her family, Murphy told in a Facebook message.

Murphy, who works two jobs while taking nursing classes, wasn’t sure how she’d afford gifts for her children after her car was towed. She had considered taking extra shifts, but between waitressing, working as a nurse’s aide, and classes she is already busy for at least eight hours each day. Some weeks, she works eight hours at Denny’s followed by an overnight shift at Seaport Village Healthcare with only a 30 minute break between jobs.


“I [could] pick up a couple extra shifts and do some odd jobs. That would mean I’d have to pay extra for a [baby]sitter though,” she wrote on Facebook. “I couldn’t even concentrate at work.”

With the tip she was able to afford to retrieve her car by Sunday evening. This will allow her to go Christmas shopping for her children, ages 6, 9, 11, and 13, later in the week.

“Now I can use what I make the rest of the week to get presents [heart emoji],” she wrote.

After Christmas, Murphy will start her next nursing class in risk management. She hopes to become a registered nurse, but for now she is just excited to celebrate the holiday with her kids.

“I don’t know this man’s name, but I hope he realizes that he literally saved Christmas for my children and I!” she wrote. “Good people do still exist.”

Read her full Facebook post below: