My family has a long-standing Christmas tradition of ringing the bell that we’ve passed down for over 30 years now. When I was growing up, my dad would bring my brother and me with him to ring the Salvation Army bell. He always signed up to ring the bell on Christmas Eve. Lots of people don’t want to ring the bell on Christmas Eve because they are busy getting ready for family or already celebrating Christmas. Sometimes it’s hard to find volunteers for that day, but my dad has found that it is the best time to ring the bell. So we’ve just made it part of our family time and Christmas tradition.
We’ve had so much fun standing outside our local grocery store together over the years. It is generally the highest giving day at that location. People are feeling extra generous. They have full-on Christmas spirit. We laugh at the men that will show up there twice during the two hours that we ring the bell, because their wives are home cooking and they keep getting sent to pick up one more thing from the store. Everyone is in good spirits. And to make sure of that, my dad makes us do crazy stuff. We dress festively and we wear crazy Christmas hats, antlers or something equally ridiculous. We ring the bell in time to a Christmas carol, and sometimes we sing. The more ridiculous we look, the more attention we draw and the more people give. My dad discovered that cute little kids wearing light-up antlers make people give more money.
We grew up and my brother continued to come back to ring the bell with my dad each year. Then once we had our own kids, they joined my dad to ring the bell. It’s always a fun year when its someone’s first time to ring the bell. We ease the little ones in slowly, bringing the toddlers for just 20 minutes of the shift and long enough to take a family photo.
This is basically the thing my kids will mention if you ask them about Christmas traditions. It means so much to all of us. I love that my dad had a vision and has passed down a legacy of giving and serving to our whole family. I love his willingness to get in the spirit and do something silly to raise more funds for others.
It’s never too late to start a tradition. Look for ways to serve this season. If you find three new things to do with your family, I can almost guarantee you that at least one of them will stick. It may become that thing that you and your family love to do each year. The photos, the memories and the legacy will be around forever.