The spirit of Christmas

The knock on my front door was so light I hardly heard it. But hear it I did. It was 8 p.m., and I don’t usually answer the door after dark, but I did. A young woman was standing there, reasonably well dressed, with a tentative smile. She was wearing a Santa hat.

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,” she sang, then stopped and said, “I’m out carolling because I’m a single mom trying to collect money for toys for my children at Christmas. Anything I get I’ll give 20 percent to the Salvation Army.” From nowhere came my heartless voice, “Not tonight. But I wish you good luck.” And I closed the door on her crestfallen face, her Santa hat and her high hopes.

That was two night ago and I have regretted my actions ever since. Why not give her $5 or $10? Was it just a scam? Maybe she was indeed a single mom who got up the guts to go out and see how’d she do. I’m a regular donor to the homeless who panhandle on downtown streets. I even know Gary’s name on one street corner I regularly pass.

In the choice between my poor guilt and her possible guile, I chose my guilt. It may even have been the right choice but it doesn’t feel that way. Merry Christmas, single mom, wherever you are, whatever you were doing.

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