The big man ringing the bell sang like a fool. He bellowed the words to “Twelve Days of Christmas,” like he wrote the damn song himself. He grinned big and sang to shoppers coming and going.
It wasn’t long before an entire crowd gathered. Including me. And soon, we all joined in singing. When it came time for the operatic five-golden-rings part, I found myself hollering like Shania Twain.
By the end of the song, there were thirty of us standing nearby. Without skipping a beat, the man closed his eyes and launched into a slow solo rendition of “O Holy Night.” And he sang it lovely enough to make your arm hair curl.
When he finished, the only thing to be heard were sniffles.
Then he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for heaven belongs to them. Blessed are folks that mourn; for they’ll be comforted.” Then he looked at me. “And you.”
“Yes, you. You’re blessed, to be on two feet, to have that bag of groceries, money in your pocket.”
Then, he pointed to a lady.
She froze like a possum in the headlights.
“You too, ma’am,” he said. “You’re blessed your kids are healthy, that you have a nice car.” He pointed to another. “And you sir, for having such a beautiful family.” To another, “You too son, for being so young and strong.”
Then, he tapped his chest. “And me. That my daughter ain’t living underneath a bridge anymore, that she’s off drugs. Blessed I get to see my grandbaby grow up.” His voice broke. “Blessed my family is finally back together this Christmas.”
He wiped his eyes, and then started singing again. Folks nearly ruptured that red bucket with five-dollar bills.
Because as it turns out, we were blessed.