One of the ladies that I play Pokeno with helps to coordinate bell ringers for the Salvation Army kettles. She was talking with my sister about it and they decided it would be great if I did it with the girls. I wasn't so sure at first, it took me a little bit to warm up to the idea.... it's a 2 hour shift and I was pretty sure that there was no way my kids would last 2 hours. I agreed to it, but I have to admit, I kind of dreaded it a bit. Sure, they were excited and probably would be all sorts of cute for half an hour, but it was the other 90 minutes I was concerned about. I probably would have backed out if my sister wasn't at the other entrance with her own kettle. So I knew I had some back up if things got bad.
It turned out to be an excellent day weather-wise. We expected rain, but not a drop fell from the sky. And it was warm enough to not need jackets. My sister was in short sleeves. Very warm for December. So we avoided the "I'm cold and wet" misery potential. =)
Miss Rhonda made sure each girl had an apron and a bell. That made 4 bells. We were probably the loudest kettle most people had to walk by this season. LOL
Zoe, who hates walking, also is not a fan of standing for extended periods. But she did very well, as long as I let her sit every so often.
I finally convinced Olivia to wear her hat. She begged me to make this hat and refused to wear it until today.
A lot of people just handed their money to the girls to put in the kettle. That made them so happy. The girls sang a little - especially Isabelle - danced a little. They really did a good job.
About an hour into it, Isabelle started a new dance.... she had to go to the bathroom. I was not about to send her into the store alone and we couldn't abandon the kettle, so I called for my back up. My sister had a friend with her, so she was able to leave their kettle and come watch ours while I ran the girls in for a potty break.
The girls definitely started wearing down in the second hour, but they were real troopers. Towards the end, my sister came down and offered to let them come to her kettle one at a time. It definitely helped give them that break in the monotony to keep them from just melting down.
This was really a great experience. It went so much better than I could have hoped for. And I saw so many people break into smiles at seeing the girls. I know that a lot of people get irritated at bell ringers. It's noisy and if you don't put something in the kettle, you feel a little guilty.... if my kids didn't enjoy sticking whatever change I can dig up at the time in there, I'd be pretty annoyed most of the time as well. So I was really touched to see so many people walk by with smiles instead of scowls. Two different occasions, these big, tough, tattooed guys walked by, saw the girls, and started digging in their pockets for something to put in the kettle. I loved that. (Of course, we all know those big tough guys usually have the softest hearts anyway) I mean, the whole experience was just what Christmas is all about - people smiling, people giving with joy, happy children. You wouldn't think that standing around ringing a bell for 2 hours would qualify as the highlight of the season, but I really think - unless something spectacular and unforeseen happens - this certainly will be mine.