So I decided that this year I was going to do things differently, and try to bring the Spirit of Christmas into my life better. Now don't get me wrong, I love buying the perfect gift for each person on my list, and I take great joy in seeing their eyes light up when they open it.
So, among a few other things, I decided to go stand out in the cold in front of Sam's Club and ring the bell for the Salvation Army. I lucked out and it was a balmy 40 degrees (woo hoo, no need for gloves!) so I knew the time wouldn't be as hard on me. I knew that by ringing that bell I was, in essence, a salesperson, so I made sure to dress up cute and warm and to put a big smile on my face.
I plugged in my iPod and was listening to Josh Groban belt out my favorite Christmas hymn, "O Holy Night".
Within the first five minutes of ringing that bell, a little Mexican girl came up to me. She stuffed a dollar into the basket and flashed me a giant smile. I smiled back and thanked her. As she waved goodbye, she walked into the store behind her parents. I noticed how her clothes were ragged and that the family obviously didn't have much money. This warmed my heart...but when I saw her put her own little change purse away into her pocket, I realized that the dollar hadn't come from her parents, but [i]from her.[/i]
The Spirit was overwhelming. And as always happens when I feel the Spirit, a few tears spilled down my face. Well, I tried to wipe them away, but perhaps they were a good sales tool (even though it was genuine), because another man, who was crippled, came up to me, looked me in the eye, and said, "Thank you for what you are doing here. We need more people like you." And he dropped a 10 dollar bill into the basket. I watched him hobble to his van and then the tears really started flowing.
During my shift, somehow practically every person who walked past me dropped some money into the bin. This surprised me, because when I see those bellringers, I often see people walk by, completely ignoring them. This was what I expected; not warm smiles and generous offerings.
The people of Madison warmed my heart today, and renewed my faith in mankind. I was touched by how the poor, just as much as the wealthy, dropped money into my basket. I loved the look of joy in their eyes as they did so.
This ws an amazing and humbling experience, and it is one I will never forget. It is something I highly suggest anyone who has a few spare hours to take the time to do. You will not be disappointed.