It never fails. Anytime I pass a red kettle, I feel an overwhelming urge to give money. Change, bills, it doesn’t matter. It’s almost a compulsion. I do not say this to pat myself on the back. I say it because it is so.
This year, I decided to do something a little different. The church we attend signed up to collect money for the Salvation Army at a local store. I decided it was time for my daughter to give back and signed the two of us up for a shift.
We showed up for business on a cold December night. Wearing Santa hats and clutching two bells, we set to “work.” It really wasn’t work though. It was just fun. I told Isabelle as soon as we started that you could not be frowning or in a bad mood if you were volunteering. I challenged her to try to frown! Sure enough, she couldn’t do it and we were soon merrily ringing the bells as people walked out.
We were doing Gangam Style-- Salvation Army Style. And laughing away.
I also decided to try a little experiment. We counted. The number of people who walked by; the number who acknowledged us with a nod or “Merry Christmas”; the number who gave money, and the number who ignored us.
There were seventy people who walked by in the half hour we collected. Out of that number- 58 replied to our “Merry Christmas” with a reply. Twenty five of those 58 with a donation. One man made it a point to thank us for saying “Merry Christmas” and not a generic “Happy Holidays” like the employee he had just encountered.
The amazing thing was that 12 people walked by and deliberately ignored a twelve year old girl ringing a bell and smiling. She was not begging. She was not harassing. She was just smiling, ringing a bell and wishing people a “Merry Christmas.” Twelve!
Not a smile. Not a nod. Not a wink. Just looked at her and looked away. I explained that maybe they were ashamed that they could not give anything or they were sad. Or maybe they did not celebrate the holidays.
I am not one of those twelve. I celebrate. I love this holiday!
MERRY CHRISTMAS! Have a great day!