When I saw the photo of the Salvation Army bell ringer (TNT, 12-17), it brought back many memories of my childhood days.
My family consisted of an extended family: my mom, grandmother, two young aunts, and my own sister and brothers. We did not have much money, and we never expected too much at Christmas time. But every Christmas, without fail, the knock came on the door and, lo and behold, there was a basket filled with all kinds of goodies: oranges, apples, nuts, Christmas candy, a chicken, bread for stuffing and pumpkin for the pumpkin pie.
What a delight to a bunch of kids and what a godsend to a mother who worried about what she could fix her family to celebrate the birth of Christ. To us kids, the Salvation Army was Santa Claus and we looked forward to their visit.
In my own small way, I have tried to pay back that generosity. I have passed the tradition down to my son, who knows how much that wonderful basket meant to me.
When I hear the bell ringing, I do not just see a bell, I see families waiting anxiously for their baskets full of goodies. Keep on ringing, little bell, for generations to come.