A little late for the Holidays but I think it's still valid.
It was snowing lightly, that soft feathery snow that you usually only hope for on Christmas Eve. Big fat flakes swirled around, catching on the hats and eyelashes of those running into the store, trying to get that last minute present for that annoying co-worker. I gave a small smile as I watched the temps pushing the grocery carts up from the parking lot, cheeks pink. Every once in a while, one of them would stop and give me a small wave, which I returned. Then we would go about our business again: him pushing carts and me ringing my bell.
With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve, it was really surprising that anyone stopped to drop their change into my little red bucket. But many did, wishing me a Merry Christmas as they did, eyes happy knowing that they did something good. The children were the best. After a shy glance in my direction and a tug on their parents' shirts, they'd come running over and drop a penny or two into the bucket, giggling shyly as it clanked. I always thanked them and let them ring the bell for a second. Then they were gone, running back to their parents amidst the Christmas Snow.
I had just come back from my break when a couple and their son approached me. I put down my coffee mug, slightly puzzled. "Go on son." The father urged, pushing the little boy slightly. He glanced at me, then at my bucket and finally blurted out- "What are you doing mister?"
I gave a small smile to his parents and bent down. "I'm collecting money for people who don't have enough to have a Merry Christmas."
The boy's brow furrowed, as if he hadn't thought of this before. Finally he said, "You mean like kid who don't get what toys they want from Santa? I always get clothes." The boys father gave a chuckle and clapped his little son on the back. "That's right son." He said, winking at me.
I straightened and reached for my coffee. "No," I said, smiling at his parents, "It's for people who don't have a house to live in. For people who wake up every morning hungry and cold, but can't fill their bellies or warm their toes. It's for people who are in the hospital and can't go home for Christmas, or were hurt by their mommies and daddies and can't live with them anymore. It's for people who don't have anything."
The little boy looked up at his parents. "Are there really people like that?" The father stared at me as if he had just lost his little boy. Fishing into his pocket, he hand his son a quarter. "Here, put this in the man's bucket." He said, his eyes never leaving my face. The mother looked away, a glint of a tear in her eyes.
The little boy put the money in the bucket, listening to it clank. I let him ring my bell, and then he was gone, lost amidst the dancing snowflakes of Christmas.