More common than peppermint bark, yule logs, and the sight of Christmas lights this time of year is the relentless clang-clang-clanging of a 45-75 year-old quasi-derelict dressed like Santa Claus (or at least bundled up in winter attire and coincidentally looking like Santa Claus) banging a bell for nickels and aggressively shouting "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!" on every street corner and in every public vestibule in America.
Everyone's got their hand out for donations trying to capitalize on the spirit of giving and goodwill that comes with the holidays. What these bell-clangers don't realize about me, however, is that I'm susceptible to these solicitations at ALL times of year. I will give to almost any charitable cause, in at least some amount, 24/7/365. Oh, it's not because I'm kind and generous. Please. It's because I basically hate myself at a very fundamental level, am perpetually wracked with guilt, and can't say no to anyone or anything. In fact, someone once gave me a book called "How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty." I have no idea what happened to that book. Needless to say, I never read it. Also needless to say, I feel guilty about losing it before I could ever read it.
Still, even I am relatively immune to the pleas of The Salvation Army and its maddening bell-clanging. I'm sure they do plenty of good work, but as far as I can tell, they are also sort of creepy and homophobic (not to mention very, VERY annoying). And who knows where my nickels and dimes are going. Certainly not where I would like them to go, I am confident. So I frankly can't deal. And while I don't carefully vet any of the zillions of charities to which I presently give peanuts weekly out of sheer guilt, it's enough for me to read that "The Salvation Army is a Christian denominational church and an international charitable organization structured in a quasi-military fashion" to know that somehow, I can look at myself in the mirror after failing to drop a quarter in that red metal bucket nine times out of ten. (The tenth time I have a hard time with, though).