A single mom said a generous customer gave her a $500 tip in Ellswoth Saturday and "saved Christmas." Credit: Trish Murphy photograph courtesy of CBS 13

A single Maine mom says she “met Santa” after a man gave her a $500 tip on Saturday and saved her Christmas.

Trisha Murphy, of Sullivan, says she works at Denny’s in Ellsworth and at Seaport Village. She is also taking classes to become a certified nursing assistant.

Murphy told CBS 13 she was worried about how she was going to pay for Christmas presents for her four children after she received a $735 bill after her car was towed.

On Saturday, she was working at Denny’s when three men came in.

“Three men came in, looking like they just got off a manual labor job. They were pleasant, but I never got any vibe that they were about to change my life,” Murphy said.

Murphy says one of the men asked her about her Christmas plans and joked about being Santa.

“The younger guys said the older man could come be Santa. He said, ‘I could. I have the rosy cheeks and the big belly,’” Murphy said. “I joked that he’d need to grow a white beard in under a week.”

When it was time to pay the check, Murphy says she was shocked to see that the man had left her a $500 tip on a $35.64 bill.

“I looked up at this man, my face as white as snow, and tears in my eyes. He just smiled and said, ‘Merry Christmas dear,’” Murphy said.

Murphy says she was so stunned by the kind gesture she forgot to get his name.

“I hope he realizes that he literally saved Christmas for my children and I. Good people do still exist. Yesterday was the day I met Santa,” Murphy said.

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