It's good to be home. It's not good having a short STUFFED FULL weekend.
Saturday I didn't get home until nearly 4, and then I went to meet John and Jet as they were ringing a Salvation Army Bell in front of a grocery store.
When I got there, Jet was spinning around in circles as he rang, and the ladies in front of me were giggling at him and getting change out of their pockets.
It's odd. After so many years of hurrying by bell ringers with my head down, and an odd mix of rage and guilt in my heart, I never really thought to think through why. Now that my boys are *doing* the dirty deed, I had to think about it. I think that the main reason I felt so oddly weird about going past such folks was the seeming hypocrasy of asking for a few cents in the face of the huge problem that is homelessness. How the hell was my pocket change going to make a difference? I should be giving really LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY to make a real difference and well... I could, but I don't WANT to and why are they asking so much of me all the time, at every mall, grocery store, and place I want to just get rid of the whole Christmas gift getting thing anyway?
I told you it was rage in there.
But I learned a few things in the last week or so. That, from the change in people's pockets and hands as they come from buying something, the Salvation Army, in Longmont alone, raises $13,000 between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and this with a schedule only half filled with ringers. All of that money goes to the OUR Center, which is a local charity that feeds, shelters, clothes, and does child care for the homeless. It doesn't go to some mass national organization that takes a chunk in order to exist before finally finding a real homeless person. And we ringers don't want to wring you of all your money. We actually are happy for just the change in your pocket because, well, it adds up.
Today in church, the children's message was about buying a Goat from Heifer, and all the kids scrambled through the congregation, asking only the loose change in purses, pockets, and the occassional dollar bill. And in just that ten minutes of giggling kids scrambling through aisles, we got over three hundred dollars in loose change and singles. It really does add up. Even a little bit makes a difference in the end.
From there we hit Souper Salad and Jet ate a huge dinner, and from there we went home to synch up with another family, and then we went to the Holiday Walk at the local park. They had 30,000 lights drawing up to 330 amps in a synchronized display of lights with music. One of them was with the Winter Wizards music that one guy did his house to on one of those videos and it looks amusingly enough like that house for me to comment. Three other people around us went, "Oh! I saw that!" The Internet makes it far less than six degrees. :-)
The paths were lit. There were bonfires every bunch of yards. John was in his shorts and everyone thought he was mad as it was less than 20° F out. But the fires were very warm, especially the HUGE bonfire in a pit with a fireman carefully feeding it and watching the dry grasses around it.
There was a marimba band in a tent out of the wind, and just by cutting off the wind it was warm in the tent! It helped that everyone in there was dancing like mad to the music, and Jet, in his snow boots, mittens and hats was doing a great, leaping imitation of the dances that go with those big, wooden percussion instruments. I was struck by how much it seems to be like taiko, with the precision and the whole troup in such amazing synch.
There were reindeer, hot cider, hot chocolate, and cookies. There was the Grinch, and Frosty and Santa along the way as well. Jet was all excited about seeing Frosty but hung well back from The Grinch. I don't blame him.
The best part was the bus ride back from the light show to the parking lot. It was warm and crowded, and then the bus driver began to try and sing caroles, and everyone on the bus happily joined in. A few were sternly quiet, perhaps upset at someone bringing Christmas into a "holiday celebration", but ah well... it was the spirit of it. And I just happily sang and enjoyed Felice Navidad quite a lot as well.
Today was church and then the boys did soup and caroling. I stayed in the office at the church and counted the goat money. I decided I'm finally at the time in the Season where it's far better to lock myself away and let others make more merry while I just stay out of the way. I think working the long hours didn't help my mood a lot, and I just needed some real time to myself. I went home, and did computer stuff and tried to straighten a few things out and by the time I was done, the boys were already home. Three of their caroling targets were out or sick or something and they'd only been able to sing at one. But they'd had a good time.
I played with Jet for a good while, tossing frisbee in the basement and then batting a ball around with frisbees. Then we set up Toy Story 2 and then 1, and I watched the first with him in my lap and he wanted the second, so I did that and went and made chicken curry and rice for John and I. Jet hadn't eaten much of the soup before caroling, so was starving by the time I'd started cooking, so we set up his dinner for him and he ate while watching. I put lots and lots of veg in the very Japanese-style curry, and went out into the garden and pulled up carrots. They are hard and sweet in this cold weather, so long as they don't freeze. John put them under a foot of leaf mulch, so they're fine.
It was good food for a cold night.
Then I played frisbee ball with Jet until he broke the plastic plate he was using as a frisbee. And finally I was just tired. I ate a clementine, broke out one of the gingerbread cakes from Trader Joe's and gave slices to John and I. Jet had some fruit and some ice cream, and then asked me to play some more. I finally asked John to play with Jet for a bit, and he did until it was bed time. I put Jet to bed happily.
It's good to be home.