Friday, December 9, 2011

bell ringin' and such

Hellooo bloggy world!!!!

I've been a bad blogger. Please forgive me. Also, please forgive anything obnoxious about this post (including too many exclamation points, or adding extra letters to the ends of words that really should have been left alone). I'm on my second cup of coffee, running on much-too-little sleep. Bear with me.

Things have been crazy around here. I'm guessing it's the same at your house, right? In order to cope with the nutz-o-ness of the season, I'm trying to focus on what's really, truly important. Things like talking to God every day. Reading the Bible. Making time for people. Smiling at crabby employees. Eating leftover Christmas party cookies. Digging in my purse for loose change for the Salvation Army bell ringers, while Charlie wiggles in my arms.

...Which reminds me of a story. Once upon a time, I was a Salvation Army bell ringer.

I'm not sure how it happened. My college roommate and I were members of Omicron Delta Kappa. (ODK is a national leadership honor society. Don't be too impressed. We jumped through lots of hoops, and got to wear a few extra cords around our necks on graduation day. Oh, and we had to pay for the cords. Bogus.)

Anyways, part of our membership requirements were a few hours of community service, doing pretty much whatever we wanted to do. My roommate found out about the above-mentioned bell-ringing opportunity, and one Saturday, there we were, in Uptown (a hipster neighborhood in Minneapolis), ringing bells on a street corner and trying to figure out if we were supposed to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." The token red bucket and bell didn't come with an instruction manual for proper bell-ringing, donation-collecting etiquette.

Now, PEOPLE. Cut the bell-ringers some slack. I know lots of folks who get all worked up about this. "SHE SAID 'HAPPY HOLIDAYS' TO ME. CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT THIS GOD-FORSAKEN COUNTRY IS COMING TO?" And then they'll look over their shoulder and yell, "MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU TOO, SWEETHEART!!!!"

(Again with the coffee/lack of sleep thing. Sorry.)

But listen: do you have any idea how offended people get on both sides of the spectrum? We got death-looks from people, whether we said "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." Really, truly, we did. There were also people who responded to our "Happy Holidays" with a knowing glance, a smile, and a quiet, "Merry Christmas." Those were the ones, I'm convinced, who worked in retail, and knew how it was to be forced to say something you didn't really want to say.

I didn't mean to turn this post into an anti-Happy-Holidays tirade. Whoops. Back to my story without an ending:

It was cold. We'd take turns standing inside the nearby convenience store and drinking really bad hot chocolate, while the other person stood outside, bumbling their words because their lips were blue and people were all sensitive about the Happy Holidays issue, and ringing that little bell faster and faster, because it was getting colder and colder. The few hours crawled by. If I ever ring that silly bell again in sub-zero temperatures, it'll be as a four-person quartet, singing Christmas carols. It's a win-win: you avoid the Happy Holidays issue, you get to sing about Jesus in public (because, really, that's who the very best Christmas songs are all about), and it gets your mind off of how slow the time is going, and how cold your toes are.

Moral of the story? Next time you see a bell-ringer, give them a pair of those instant hand-warmer things, or buy them a cup of (good) coffee, please!

1 comment:

Rochelle said...

Thank you for helping us to all gain a bit of perspective! I appreciate it. I always feel badly for them but have never had a real inside look before. Thanks for the tips! :) And you should totally do that singing quartet thing.