Just a thought... The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. [William Shakespeare, Pablo Picasso or both]
Three weeks. Three weeks until Boxing Day. Who counts down to Boxing Day? Only the hardiest of shoppers and somebody who doesn't know if she can make it through another holiday season. As if there's a choice, right? We do it. You try to close out the songs that hold the heaviest emotional heft, you stay away from boxes of ornaments and lights that may not ever be opened and you fantasize about running away again and just hiding from the whole thing.
But then, there's the reality of it. When our own radio station (Ocean 98.5) is the home of Christmas Music 24/7, just like her sister station CHFI, and every store is playing the songs of the season, there's no avoiding the tunes you associate with the happiest times of your life.
So what do you do? On the days that you can, you lean in. That's why we went to Butchart Gardens on Friday and did this on Saturday: ringing the bells for the Salvation Army.
As long as I can remember, I've loved ringing the bells for the Sally Ann. Rob and I were grateful that, like so many volunteers, our daughter Lauren also got great satisfaction from helping to inspire people to give during Christmastime in the busy Byward Market in Ottawa, which is also where her radio station was situated.
She and I would compare experiences when she'd finished her time doing it; she was always laughing at how people would be working so hard not to make eye contact on their way by. We got it; we knew that people might have already given, or just didn't have change or simply chose not to. And that's fine! But oh, we laughed. People are just...people.
On Saturday under grey skies but with no rain (which was wonderful, given how soggy that morning had been) Rob and I chatted with and greeted dozens of shoppers on their way into and out of the liquor store. Some gave us the change they'd just gotten from taking in their empties; others folded and pushed fives and even a few twenties into the kettle. I kept up a rhythmic one-two-cha-cha-cha ringing to keep things interesting and just kept smiling. Nothing sadder than a volunteer who looks like they have to be there, instead of wanting to be, right?
A CHFI listener from Burlington, who just happened to be visiting, stopped by for a chat, while Nancy, the friend who's been so active in welcoming Rob and me to the peninsula, came with her husband and some wonderful Chinese soup to have when we were done, as well as some Euro notes from a recent trip! (And, yes, she took the picture you see above).
It was a good two hours and we're glad that we did our shift, volunteering through Rotary. What I would love to see, though, sometime this century, is for a bank - any bank, please - to underwrite adding tap machines or some way for people to give via card or smart phone. We're missing out on a whole lot of folks who, like me, only shop with a phone in their pocket - no wallet, no cash - and can't give no matter how badly they'd like to. Surely there's a way? Salvation Army - you can do this!
Tomorrow, one parade had me remembering the best of one much bigger parade back in Toronto. Pictures and stories and more - oh my! Have a great day.
(@erindavis on Twitter)