Silver bells and Christmastime in the city

Kathryn announced yesterday that she had signed up for a two-hour stint as Salvation Army bell-ringer in front of a nearby grocery store — she needed to clock some volunteer hours as a National Honor Society member.

“You’re doing it alone?”  I asked.

She didn’t have time to find a friend to sign up with her, she said, but I was invited to come along to keep her company. In fact, she thought my presence would be an excellent idea.

“Mom, haven’t people been doing nice things for you?” she said slyly. “Isn’t this a way to give back to the community that’s given you so much? I think you really can’t say no to this. What would that say about you as a person?”

So I accompanied her on her 4 to 6 p.m. shift in the entrance of Harding’s Supermarket. It was cold and tedious and I couldn’t get the hang of ringing the bell right. On the other hand, Kathryn had a very good wrist flick with the bell, and we had a very nice two-hour chat about everything from Christmas gifts to her relationship with her boyfriend to analyzing the demographics of people who put money in the Salvation Army kettle. (Interestingly enough, the people who looked as if they could least afford it were the ones most likely to donate.)

After we came home, Kathryn said she was glad we did it: “I felt like we actually accomplished today.”

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