The Other Christmas Bells
The Other Christmas Bells
Henry Matthew Ward

Ah, Christmas shopping! Sometimes fun, sometimes a chore...
Like getting by those danged bell-ringers
with their pot-on-a-chain variation of the tin cup!
Looks like they're even doing some weird clogging around it!
I look the other way, and manage to get into the store
without being hassled...just that incessant ding, ding, ding.

Doesn't take long nowadays to go through a wad of money
buying presents for the wife, the kids, the grandchildren.
Good Grief! Forty dollars for a pair of blue jeans?
Two bucks for a candy cane? What's this world coming to?
Finally, with one lousy twenty left to my name,
I head for the car with a cart full of goodies.

Hell's bells! There's those glorified beggars to pass again!
Still stamping their feet almost like they're dancing!
(Or is it just that it's so cold out here?)
Eyes down, don't give 'em any encouragement. What pests!
Ah, made it! Would have given 'em something, maybe...
But all I had left on me was the twenty, no change.

Man, it's cold out here! Can't wait to get home and light a fire.
Now what?.... verses stirring in my mind? Not a song...
"Lord, when saw we Thee naked and clothed Thee?"
"When saw we Thee an hungered and fed Thee?...."
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these...."
Oh, God.....forgive my hard and selfish heart!

Still in the parking lot, I turn off the car engine,
return to the Bell Ringers, stuff a folded Jackson
into the slot, and hear an undeserved, "God bless you, Sir!"
from the Salvation Army.... the conscience of the world!
Hell's Bells? No, I think maybe they are Heaven's Bells.
Perhaps, among their ranks, are Angels.....unawares.

By Henry Matthew Ward (c)1993

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