"Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man's hat;
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!"
This old nursery rhyme chokes me up. I can't help myself. I picture a scene ripped straight from the pages of Dickens: an elderly pauper on a Victorian street corner begging for pennies to feed his sickly grandchildren.
I don't normally think of myself as an overly sentimental person. But there is something about Christmas that -- coupled with an overactive imagination -- really fires up my reluctant sentimentality.
It was mid-December when I scooted down to the grocery store with my eldest who was just over 2 years old and I was great with our second child. As we entered the store our eyes were drawn to the food pantry barrels set up just inside the entrance. I took a moment to explain to my boy that the brightly colored barrels were there to be filled with food for those who couldn't afford to buy it themselves. He was enthusiastic, so we passed through the store with an eye to what we could buy to donate.
At that time, Liam's grand passion in life was chicken-and-stars soup. You know the kind; a red, gold and white labeled major brand. You could say the soup made his days merry and bright. To him it was a natural choice. He wanted to load those barrels with chicken-and-stars. I looked at the soup prices. The major brand, Liam's favorite, was twice the price of the store-brand soup. I explained to Liam that we could buy twice as much for people if we bought the unfamiliar label. He agreed. And that's where I was hijacked by sentimentality.