Friday, December 14, 2012

Thank you! Merry Christmas! OBSERVATIONS

I'm a strong believer in and supporter of The Salvation Army.  They do what few other churches would attempt to do and truly act out "Jesus" in providing for those in need.  I don't have a lot of money to give; so at Christmas, I like to volunteer once a week on the kettles.  (We aren't allowed to sing or ring a bell to draw attention to ourselves now-a-days.  So I always dress low key -- bright red and green with Santa hat and/or antlers -- and sit quietly -- hum Xmas caroles and wear my Xmas sleigh bells on my wrist -- and observe those around me.)  

And if people do put something in the kettle, I always smile and say "Thank you.  Merry Christmas".  I'm shocked by the people who are genuinely surprised and gladdened by those few words.

Besides observing those around me, I gain insight into my own self -- the good, the bad and the ugly!  Last night was my last kettle sitting evening of the season and the best observation evening yet.  Here's some of what I observed.

  • There are more pyjama-clad shoppers out there than I care to see.  I mean really!  Who said it was okay to wear pyjamas outside the home?

  • People buy a LOT of soda pop at Christmas!  I mean a LOTTTTT!

  • I was impressed by the 30 something woman who was out in minus 4 celsius weather in her jogging shorts; but all the better to see those gorgeous toned 'n' tanned legs of hers.  Man, she had great legs!  (As she walked away, I evilly smiled to myself when I saw her celluite.  Okay, okay!  Not one of my prouder moments!)

  • Gorgeous, hunky men seldom look my way.  I guess they're too busy staring at toned 'n' tanned legs in jogging shorts to notice the pudgy woman in Santa hat and sensible shoes.  But I'm not so old that I can't appreciate their beauty and remember my own beautiful youth & the handsome men who courted me ..... all 3 of them!!! (Well, there may have been more, but perhaps not all of them were that handsome!)
  • I kept noticing this one young woman in the lotions and shampoo aisle; she spent about 20 minutes there -- strolling slowly back and forth in the aisle, opening bottles & smelling, reading the back.  My own 20 year old does that.  But it's been a long, long, long time since I spent 20 minutes looking at lotions and shampoos. Ya know?  I'm gonna spend more time in the cosmetics aisle from now on!  I'm gonna sniff more! 
  • I love seeing the happy couples -- young couples, new parents,  seniors.  They hold hands, they share in the bagging of the groceries at the self-check out; they wait for one another (some will sit beside me and chat about "I wonder where she's got to?"); and then they smile at one another when they meet up again.  It doesn't matter that I'm divorced and don't have a mate, I love seeing happy couples.  

But my favorite observations are always the children.  They're usually the ones to tug at Mom or Dad's sleeve to let them put some money in the kettle.  
  • One young man who was about 12 years old put money in the kettle on the way in.  I smiled and said "Thank you.  Merry Christmas" and he just beamed!  "Mom!  She said Merry Christmas!"  He was so impressed by those words that he put money in again on his way out.  Now I'm a mother of girls; and most of the 12-14 yr old boys I've been around are usually loud, obnoxious & quite annoying.  It's lovely to be reminded that they also have a sweet, soft side to them and a privilege to be on the receiving end of that.  

  • My favorite of the night:  A young family were at the self-checkout.  The little 5-6 yr old boy put some change in the kettle, I said my usual, and he went back to Mom telling her that I'd wished him a Merry Christmas.  Then while his parents finished the groceries, he stood across the aisle from me and entertained me.  First he smiled.  Then he used his mittens to smack himself in the face, making me laugh.  Then he began to hop as he smacked.  Then he started to do a silly dance and wag his head back and forth.  Then he began to sing, dance, wag his head and occasionally smack himself with his mitttens.  I'd laugh, he'd laugh.  What a little clown he was; and what a great ending to my night.

Have you been observing lately?  It's a most educational tool!


Janet said...

I love to people watch, Sandy - malls, grocery stores and airports are the best places for such activity! As you said, it really is educational.

I'm saddened that the Salvation Army Kettle People no longer ring bells - that's one of my fondest 'shopping' memories of Christmas' long ago!!

Pamela Gordon said...

I am a people watcher too Sandy and one sees a lot of 'interesting' people when out and about for sure. The little boy made me smile as I can see my grandson perhaps 'entertaining' someone in that way. Enjoy the weekend!

Furry Bottoms said...

I love watching people. You know what else I notice about the salvation army kettle people? THEY are always genuinely surprised when a shopper looks them in the eye and smile back at them. I just put some money in a kettle a few days ago and this pudgy, not so good-looking man said the usual. Merry Christmas! And I looked at him (I had to anyway, in order to read lips) and I noticed the effect it had at him. He was so happy. It made me wonder how they can stand there all day and be ignored, be yelled at, be rejected. It must be so hard. On my way out, I made sure to give him another smile and he grinned so broadly that it made my day.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I do love people watching and you certainly had the perfect opportunity. 2 of my grandsons recently volunteered an afternoon bell ringing for the Salvation Army in their town. They still ring bells there. I love that most of what you saw was all good things. I do see a lot of folks in pajama bottoms when I shop too. I do wonder what kind of statement they are trying to make. Bless you for your hours at the kettle.

Pondside said...

That was a lovely post and I'm so glad you shared your observations.
The Salvation Army will always get my support because for all the years we were posted overseas it was the SA that came to provide services that our government didn't. Both my children attended SA Christmas parties in foreign countries and I bought my first nativity scene from the SA. Bless them.

PhilipH said...

Smashing post.
I too think well of the Sally Army and have praised them elsewhere over the years. They are super sleuths in tracing lost or missing people. They help the homeless. And they certainly come to the aid of lonely souls at all times, but especially around Xmas.
Love 'em!

Jack said...

Ah, 'tis a wonderful thing ye do, and gracious to a fault ye be for sharin' your grand adventure with us! If ye don't start bein' a bit more, well, disgraceful, ye'll have to start puttin' a disclaimer after yer blog title! Beautiful work, nonetheless, matey. The happiest of holidays to you and yours...

Sara said...

John volunteers at the kettles too, and wishes everyone a "Merry Christmas!". We thought it might be against the rules to do that, because most of the "kettle keepers" seem to be rather subdued and sit quietly.
Isn't it amazing what people wear these days?

Pat MacKenzie said...

Thank you for putting a face and personality on the kettle people for me. I'm going to look for them the next time I'm out shopping and be ready with change and a smile.

Patrick Farnon said...

super story... you have made my day... again! Fortunately we are still allowed to ring the bells for the Salvation Army Kettles.

Keep writing... I love your tales! I have never been to the Maritime Area of Canada, but some day! My wife is from Wolfville, NS!