When the boys were young, we used a Countdown to Christmas calendar. It had a pocket for each day that held a strip of paper with an activity that would help us get ready for Christmas. Even though I haven't used that calendar for many years, I still like the concept of spreading out the holiday activities, and try to do one or two things every day to make the season less hectic.Salvation Army bell ringers with their red kettles before Thanksgiving, but since I don't get serious about Christmas shopping until December, I can't donate that early. However, it's getting mighty close to Christmas, so today I decided to put money in each of the kettles I saw along my route as I ran errands.
My first stop was a drug store close to work. I've seen the same bell ringer each time I've shopped there this season. Like the vast majority of ringers I've come across, he's super friendly. (One day I saw him helping customers carry bags to their car!) Even when I didn't donate, he still had a nice word to say. Today, when I slipped a bill in his kettle, he beamed and wished me a Merry Christmas.
Stop number two was a grocery store to get some meat. However, I needed it sliced and I forgot this store doesn't have a butcher counter for special requests, so I turned around and left. The kettle here was unmanned when I entered, but there was a ringer on my way out. He had a steaming cup of coffee, which I'm sure tasted good in this frigid weather. I made my deposit, and he smiled and said "Thank You".
Still looking for my meat, I went to another grocery store where I knew I could get what I was looking for. This store had a female ringer out front. We exchanged pleasantries as I put money in her kettle, and she wished me a Merry Christmas. I made my purchase and left the store. As I walked past the ringer, she told me to "have a blessed holiday".
The next few stops didn't have a kettle out front, but I realized as I was driving out of the last strip mall that even though I wasn't planning on shopping at the big box store there, I could make a swing through their parking lot and donate money one more time. The bell ringer here must have been taking a break, because the stand was unoccupied, but I stopped my car in the fire lane, jogged over to the kettle, and slid my money in. I really don't care if I get a personal thanks if the cause is good.