Join Waukesha resident Brien Lee and his blog, Sir Fido, as they explore the city and report on the interesting things they find.
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If you were one of the many I didn't buy for this year, I hope you appreciate the gift I didn't get you.
I wanted to see the other side of Christmas this year, the one that didn't involve a year-long loan for a few moments of joy. I took two weeks off work to be with the family, but how can you wrap that and put it under the tree? I guess it's what you do with the time that matters. When Christmas is over will they remember the toys or the things we did together?
Even though we spent too much, as always, on Christmas this year, I've been attempting to see the nongift-buying side of the holiday. To that end, I spent a couple hours yesterday with Sally hoping she'd let me see the light. And, indeed, I did see the other side of Christmas while ringing bells for Salvation Army. The side where people give without expectation of anything in return. The side that says people are generous to others, strangers they'll probably never know, even in the worst of economies.
I chose familiar surroundings for my first ever shift with bell ringing... Pick 'N Save on Silvernail. Even though I was nervous before leaving here, and the weather wasn't the greatest, I enjoyed being there and wish it had lasted longer. I enjoyed running into many people I know, including several I'm related to. I enjoyed the enthusiastic carolers making the rounds of area businesses. I really enjoyed the shelter from the storm as Pick 'N Save allows ringers to stand inside the entrance. I enjoyed meeting new people and greeting people.
The store was packed with shoppers trying to beat the storm just two days prior to Christmas. My shift lasted to 6:00 and I had a 6:30 meeting. When I got home I learned the meeting was cancelled. I would have liked to have stayed at Pick 'N Save. Not only was I getting into the many friendly people I was meeting, but ringing itself was rather entertaining too. I had two bells, one pitched slightly different than the other. How many ways can you shake two bells? Quite a few, actually. My only challenge? To avoid annoying others. There aren't instructions on how one should ring, but with two bells you really can get creative. At least I thought so. Three hours to practice anyway. Just don't get too wild... I temporarily lost the clapper on one bell when I rang them in about an 150 degree arc.
Ringing bells for Sally exceeded my expectations. It was three hours of thinking of others, including one person I hadn't expected and hadn't seen... my dad. Dad used to ring bells and was on the Salvation Army board of directors. Memories of him kept me warm on the very windy and cold afternoon.
Thanks to everyone who said hi and those who donated. Please comment if you saw me, also rang bells this year, know anything about the carolers we heard, did something different for Christmas...
As for me? Another three hour shift in half an hour. Downtown Waukesha. Say hi if you see me.