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Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Don’t Hate Christmas. I Don’t Hate Christmas.

It’s that time of year. Maybe you’ve already seen them – those perennial Salvation Army bell ringers ringing their bells in front of local stores.  As a Salvation Army officer myself, I hate putting my bell ringers out before Thanksgiving (and I refuse to have them out past Christmas Eve).  I hate the holiday creep.  I hate seeing Christmas trees for sale in August.  I hate hearing Christmas carols in October.  One stinking holiday at a time please.

But Thanksgiving comes late this year, and the holiday (read: fundraising) season is quite short this year – causing me to me to go against all of my natural inclinations and to put our kettles out a week before Thanksgiving.  If we’re going to raise the money necessary to continue the work of the Salvation Army in Newton, Iowa (and the rest of Jasper County) we need these extra days.  So our bell ringers will begin ringing tomorrow morning.

I took the kettle stands around to the locations around town that have graciously allowed us to occupy their space again this year. It’s not exactly a glamorous job – it’s just schlepping across town with the heavy metal stands and placing them in front of the stores – but in years past it’s been a job that I’ve shared with my son.  A sort of holiday tradition. He rides along with me; we play the radio loud and make the best of it.

But this year I asked him if he wanted to go out with me to drop off the kettle stands and his reply was “I don’t want to start kettles this early.”  It’s exactly what I was thinking myself, but it broke me.   I hate that I have no warm nostalgia for childhood Christmases.  My officer parents were busy and tired (and cranky. They’re wonderful people, but we all know what this season does to us…) I hate that this job ruins Christmas for me.  And now I hate that it’s ruining Christmas for my son.

He did change his mind, and my daughter (who doesn’t usually come along) volunteered to come too (provided that I buy her a cappuccino…).  So we piled the entire family into the vehicle, loaded the stands into the back and then went out schlepping through the icy rain to drop off the kettle stands for our bell ringers who start ringing tomorrow.

It turned out to be a fine and enjoyable evening.  I don’t…hate…Christmas. Not really. But I do hate what it does to us.

So look for the bell ringers.  They’ll be out until December 24th (barring Thanksgiving day and Sundays).  Or, if you’d prefer to donate online you can use this virtual kettle.  This one is set up to support the Salvation Army in Newton, Iowa – but you can use the link to find a Salvation Army unit closer to you, if you like.

Crab Apple Tree in November (2) by Jeff Carter on  
Or, if you’d like to purchase gift for friends or family this year – you could purchase one of the photographs I have for sale. They are available as a professional quality 2’ X 3’ canvas print for $211.  My portion of these sales is given to The Salvation Army of Newton Iowa.

Thanks again for considering the Salvation Army during this busy, frantic, hectic, holiday season. 

Take time to be with your family. 

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Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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