Beginning in a week or so, children in England will be singing outside neighbors doors; hoping for a generous response to their off-key melodies.
With the first song - not really a carol - the group loudly proclaims: Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Will you please put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny, a half-penny will do. If you haven't got a half-penny, God bless you." We didn't really mean God bless them. In fact, we had a rather rude song we sang if they banged on the inside door and told us to go away, or worse - bugger off! It included our fervant wish that they choke on a black pudding.
Mother seeks the education of her uncouth and greedy offspring. She asked, "Do you know the meaning of this yuletide message?" Of course not. What it is trying to tell us, she explains, is that it is not the size of the gift. In fact, it doesn't matter if you cannot spare any money. What matters is that you GIVE. Give money if you can, no matter the amount. If you can't afford money, give your time to fix him a meal. If you can't spare time, give your blessings and connect this 'old man' to the help he needs.
Did we respond with warmer hearts of understanding? No, we did not. Not right then. Our mission was to get money out of our stony-hearted and poor neighbors; the more money the merrier. Still, the meaning of the message took root. Later, with children of our own, the message nudged our memory and conscience. - it's meaning makes so much sense.
We are a nation of givers. It seems to be in our DNA. It's hard when our mailboxes bulge with requests for help. We want to help all of them. Most of us cannot do that. We select the needs closest to our hearts. We give what we can. It is not the amount. A half-penny will do. Our message is, "I care."
Thank you for caring,
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