Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Note of Christmas Cheer

I hope that what I write today is not to be construed as bragging for, truth be known, the only thing I like to brag about is my grandchildren and the occasional accidental good golf shot. But here goes anyway. For five years now I have played my various lower brass instruments at Salvation Army kettles in Florida and Michigan. This year I started in Lakewood Ranch, Florida on November 13 playing two hours daily five days a week. A week ago Tuesday, my last day in Florida, I sat in front of the local Publix where the temp was 83 degrees. Three days later, I was playing at the local Kroger’s store in Grosse Pointe, Michigan in 29 degree weather bundled in layers of clothing. Today at noon, I start my last two hour stint for the season. Feedback from the Salvation Army llfts my spirits as they tell me that the playing of the instruments increases the donation amounts three to four fold. The 27 days I have spent has generated more than thirty thousand dollars in cash for this worthwhile charity. Let me tell you why I am not bragging. The truth is, I love doing this. The gift I get from the doing far exceeds the benefits that are derived for others. I am unsure of the origin of the phrase “give and you shall receive”,but in this instance it is true. The benefits I receive by being in a position to listen firsthand to the many people who stop by and stuff five or ten dollars, sometimes more and sometimes less, while telling me how the Salvation Army helped them or a family member in the past provides me with a touching lesson and reminder of the fortunate life I have lived. I like to start and finish each of my playing sessions at the kettle with “Amazing Grace.” A young man stopped by the kettle in Florida just before I came back north for Christmas and told me that he had been transferred from out-of-state to Florida the year before and was not happy at all about the situation. He said that as he got out of his car in the Publix parking lot last year and walked to the store, I began playing “Amazing Grace” and he knew that everything was going to be all right for him and his family. This year he asked to hear it again. He stood in front of me and listened with tears streaming down his face, stuffed a hundred dollar bill into the kettle, and walked away. Looking back he said “Merry Christmas.” The same to you, pass it on!