The Lesson of the Ringing BellBy: Amy Fenton Lee
I'll admit it. Internally, I wrestled both annoyance and guilt on seemingly every shopping trip during the holidays last year as I passed the clanking kettle and eager face petitioning my contribution. Nearing age four, my son's social awareness and inquiries seemed endless. Anticipating his potential questions on our weekly visit to the super store, I made the conscious decision to approach every ringing bell - all season long - with a smile and a donation. Almost immediately my son was excitedly asking for money when we pulled into a parking lot where he heard the familiar bell. Invariably the short exchange between the charity volunteer and my young son brought a smile to all three of us and spurred a follow-up teachable moment as my son pondered how his small offering may help someone in need. I immediately found myself more joyous during the holiday season and throughout the numerous holiday shopping excursions. It was amazing that the once avoided bells were now opportunities and happy moments for my son and me to share.
There is something truly contagious and counterintuitive during the Christmas season. It is the time of year we spend the most on gifts, expensive meals and rising heat bills. Yet it is also the season we naturally remember those who are less fortunate. What compels us to provide the food and presents for the family who otherwise would have little? What draws us to the toy we purchase and place in the fire station's collection box? For me the answer is clear after seeing my son's reaction to the ringing bells.
Infused in our DNA is the desire for both grace and giving. Any mother of a misbehaving child can attest to the innate and natural desire for grace, and the same is true for giving. It took little explanation for my young son to develop an enthusiastic spirit to contribute when passing a clanking kettle and a smiling volunteer ringing a bell. Similarly, he took great pride and delight in selecting a toy not for himself, but for a child whose name was posted on the church angel tree. Teaching my child to give wasn't like teaching him to like asparagus - much simpler indeed! We are hard-wired to offer acts of goodwill and kindness. Our spirits respond to our virtuous deeds with natural feelings of warmth and pleasure. This holiday season, and throughout the year, may we all experience the joy in doing good.
Amy Fenton Lee is a Cumming resident. For more on her writing, see www.amyfentonlee.com.
2 Corinthians 8:14 "At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need."