I have the smartest husband.
When I signed our family up for our traditional Salvation Army Bell Ringing Shift, good old P told me to switch the grocery store location we normally stand in front of. He wanted us to take the same shift, but to do it at a store with a SOUTH FACING Front door. You see it's always bitterly cold when we ring bells and he wanted us not to have a stiff north wind in our face.
He was so right. Even though the temps were nowhere near what they had been in previous years; in the 30's rather than the teens or below, it felt more like 40's. No wind. It was chilly, but bearable. This year, we had hand warmers in our gloves and took turns eating at the cafe inside the store. With both Miss A and Miss M just recovering, we wanted them to only be out for short stints.
Bell Ringing is such a fun family tradition that we decided this year to invite some friends to join in on the fun. The fact that you have to sign up for a three hour shift (at minimum) might have had something to do with that too.
Three families from my Bible Study came with their kids and friends and the cousins and Aunt and Uncle came too. In fact, at one time, the "kids" door was so rocking with Christmas Carols that a few adults came to the "old people" side to drop money in the kettle. Score.
Standing outside at Christmas time "begging" for money is such a lesson in social psychology and a case study in behavior. You could almost guess those who were grumpy and not going to drop anything in the bucket and those who were jolly and giving as they walked up to the door. But still there were surprises. Like the kind little old lady who walked back to our door after putting away her groceries in her car, because she had a cane in one hand and couldn't open her purse.
It's funny too how many times we got a "thank you" response when we wished the person a "Merry Christmas" not a "you too" but just a nod of thanks. C noticed that some even grumbled the thanks, like it was a burden to talk to us. Yet others walked by and promised to "catch us on the way out of the store" and came back later with wads of dollar bills.
People are funky.
The highlight of the evening for the kids beside the silly singing and ringing was the Village Inn Pie afterwards. A loves to be in the midst of the big kids, M idolizes her cousins and C loves to just hang out with friends. The fact that the adults got to warm up with coffee and I got to finally feel my feet again are just bonus points.