It is always good to have someone give you a compliment and this past Saturday before Christmas I got a basketful.
I volunteered to ring the bell for the Salvation Army at Belk’s from 11 to 12 and, Brother, it was cold. My hands were shaking so bad after about half an hour that there was no way I could not ring the bell. One gentleman who had stepped out of the store to have a smoke while his better half shopped said that if I would “stop ringing that d--n bell I’ll give you a ten.”
I am deaf to the bell and can’t hear it but I know most every one else can. Not wanting to be annoying, I put the bell in my pocket and he finished his smoke and went back in the store without paying.
Now I was ticked. He owed me a ten and I determined I was going to wait until he came out. You don’t lie to the Salvation Army and get away with it.
I rang the bell as many other people dropped mostly dollar bills in the bucket and I kept a watch on the door. I was smiling and saying Merry Christmas and even going HOHOHO for the little ones and really enjoying myself when I spotted the rascal trying to sneak out behind his wife. I cut him off and looked him right in the eye and said, “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
He gave me a stare that said he was in no mood to argue and even though my spine is haywired and clamped together with what looks like two pairs of vise grips, making me totally incapable of fighting to any effect at all, I stared back. I reminded the gentleman that Christmas is about redemption from all those things that we know we should have done and did not do or did do and should not have done. “It will make you feel better when you do what you said you would do if I stopped ringing the bell.”
I was hoping he didn’t tear me up right then and there and he didn’t. He snatched a roll out of his pocket, peeled off a ten and tried to hand it to me. I pointed to the bucket saying, “It’s not for me. It’s for the needy.”
He walked over and stuffed the bill in the bucket. I said, “Thank You and I hope this is the best Christmas you’ve ever had.”
He turned and walked off briskly but stopped after a few steps, turned and said, “I hope it‘s a good Christmas for you, too.”
I started ringing that bell like a fire alarm as I smiled and turned back to the shoppers. From that moment on it was like I was on a mission to be as happy and well wishing as a man can be to everyone who passed by. I had stood up for right and the Salvation Army and won!
As far as the compliments go, I’ll bet that at least twenty people told me how much they enjoy my column in the paper. I know most people enjoy Cracklin” Bread but it is still good to hear it from their lips.
All the compliments, this Redemptive time of year, my wife having a pot of fresh coffee when I got home from the bell ringing, getting ready for my granddaughter and her parents coming to eat supper, getting that ten dollar bill without getting the crap stomped out of me and then having that same gentleman genuinely wish me a Merry Christmas, made it a good day.
Remember what this season is all about; REDEMPTION! Lord knows I needed it and I appreciate it and I hope you do, also.
May the Peace of God be with you all and Happy New Year!