It sounds silly, but things like this scare me to death. I was a massive ball of panic before it. I’d love to give you a good reason as to why, but I can’t. Maybe it’s the social anxiety component. Maybe it was because I’ve walked by too many of those bell ringers without giving anything because I NEVER carry cash. Whatever it was,by the time I got there, I was kind of sick to my stomach over it.
Lame. I know.
I sent out this status after, “If you ever need your faith in humanity restored, be a bell ringer in front of your local Walmart.”
It was like all of the wonderful Christmas stories combined. The widows mite. The child who gives his money he’s been saving for other things. All of that. Most people gave, and when they did, MOST gave bills. Some gave TWENTIES! These are Walmart shoppers like me. We’re not rich. An elderly Hispanic women came up to me, and put her hand on my shoulder. This beautiful woman, without a single word spoken and with a light in her eyes, opened her wallet and gave me the entire contents, $15. Tears squirted uncontrollably out of my eyes.
Yes. I was the crying Salvation Army Bell Ringer.
About a half an hour after I got there, Lance brought the kids to come help. It was too cold for them to be out there the entire time. Casey jumped on it like it was his very calling in life. He threw on his hat, his apron and rang those bells RIGHT in the faces of people who walked by. He’d yell “Merry Christmas” over and over again. When he thought someone hadn’t heard him (*read: was ignoring him) he’d say, “Hey! HEY YOU! Merry Christmas! Put your money in there!”
That boy never ceases to amaze me. He’s supposed to be the one that panics in front of people. The one that is scared to ring a bell in front of people he doesn’t know. Nope. He was the one who did it willingly, lovingly and excitedly. In our short hour we were there, Casey had managed to get people to fill up the bucket. It was overflowing. (I want to say “as was my heart”, but I’m a little nauseous right now, and I..I just can’t…).
Again, I was the Crying Salvation Army Bell Ringer.
This was the fulfillment of 7 years of Christmas wishes. Everything he was doing there was something that I had wished for. He was speaking. He was laughing. He was interacting with people and leaving a positive mark on this world.
This was Christmas to me.