Several weeks ago I rang a Salvation Army bell in a prosperous shopping mall. People of all ages and walks of life dropped money into my red kettle. As I thanked each one, I began to have feelings of joy. Some people smiled shyly, others gruffly looked away and mumbled, “You’re welcome.” Others repeated my enthusiastic, “Merry Christmas.”
Children wanted to put something in the kettle. They pulled on their parents’ hands, pointing to the kettle. Sometimes I had to tip the kettle so they could reach it. Grandparents gave their grandchildren coins or bills. One little boy cried, “But I wanted bubble gum.” When I thanked him, he stopped crying and smiled.
Last year when I was bell-ringing, I thought of the Iraqi families experiencing terror and death and destruction. Tears came to my eyes as I realized how fortunate we are in the safety of our country.
Despite the noise of the mall, my small bell sent its Christmas message. People responded generously. As I left, I knew joy would remain in my heart until next year’s bell ringing. For those who heard the bell and gave, I hope some of the Christmas spirit stays with them also.