Saturday, 3 December 2016

"Is it all right if I give you some money?"

is not a question I am usually asked. It is usually the other way around.
Yesterday I was asked this question. I went and "volunteered" for an hour in the local shopping centre - to collect for the Christmas Bowl Appeal. 
It isn't something I particularly like doing. I hate being harassed by collectors in the shopping centre, particularly those who are there all week and are being paid to do the job.
But, people who collect for the Christmas Bowl Appeal are always volunteers and it is only ever done on the one day in the year. The Senior Cat can't do it so I do. 
And there are advantages in me doing it. A lot of people know me. They may not know my name, although some of them do. They do know my tricycle and I suppose they associate me with it.
So, I prowled off and took over from the previous person - an older man. The collecting tin was almost empty. I knew there had been two other collections during the week, one of them particularly aggressive. Perhaps people had simply had enough of giving.
I waited. I watched. People went past and ignored me. I expected that.
Then I heard the words, "Is it all right if I give you some money?"
The person asking me  is Muslim. I know him only slightly. He and his wife asked me for some help once  in the library. They are both very young. He's a student.  We have acknowledged one another with smiles since then, nothing more.
He put a donation in the tin. His wife smiled at me and they went on. They are struggling on a student allowance.
The collection point was near the shop which sells things like ice cream and hot dogs and milkshakes. It's a shop which is popular with the students from the secondary schools - and the younger ones when they can persuade their parents that they are "hungry".
I watched people come and go from there too. Then a couple of boys turned up from a local secondary school. They walked up to the counter but the girl was busy serving someone else. They turned around and saw me. One nudged the other. They looked at each other and then walked over and put money in the tin. Then they walked off. It was clear they had "spent" their money as a donation instead.
And then a couple more secondary students turned up.
"Hi Cat, what's this for?"
I explained. They looked at each other and produced a few coins. It might not have been a great deal in the scheme of things but I know that the two of them don't have a lot of money. They both work part time jobs. 
They were followed by a man who folded a note and stuffed it in as he stared at their departing backs. 
     "I've been watching," he told me, "And I think I just saw real Christmas."
I know he did.


Momkatz said...

Thank you for sharing with us, Cat. I, too, am sure that you saw Christmas. In the spirit of the season, may I share two short quotes about giving?

"No one has ever become poor by giving." Anne Frank

"If you always give, you will always have." Chinese proverb

Love from USA Sister Cat

Allison said...

I'm glad that someone else recognized what he was seeing, too.

Anonymous said...

Love the fact that you were not the only one to recognise the real Christmas moment.

catdownunder said...

It makes Christmas seem okay after all. I actually managed to do something I had been putting off as a result of this. Thanks all!