It is the lunch hour and I am sitting in the park, taking a break from my first successful shopping day of the Holiday Season. I say Holiday Season, by the way, not because of any tendency toward political correctness but because Muri and I celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas … and Holiday Season is much easier to type than Hannukah and Christmas Season. Twenty letters easier if I’ve spelled Hannukah correctly. I left the house this morning frustrated because until today, I’d found very few gifts on my previous trips to what my grandchildren like to call The Stores. As in, Where did you go today, Savy? We went to The Stores with Mommy. Mommy, by the way, REALLY likes The Stores. Since the Holiday Season only comes around once a year, I tend to forget that’s that is my Holiday Shopping modus operandi … I need to make multiple trips to The Stores and, often, multiple passes through the same store to get some ideas and to decide what I don’t want. Then … usually a few days before The Holidays … I have a day like today. I get up early in the morning to hit the stores before they get busy and things practically jump off the shelves into my cart. I’m Santa, spreading cheer to other shoppers in line and sales people tired of harried customers. I remember how much I love buying presents for people and in my seventies, it doesn’t even matter if my son, who never gives me a Christmas list, will likely return 75% of what I buy him. It’s the thought that counts, right?
Then, I leave the store and enter the parking lot. The very same people who were cheerfully chatting with the me at the cash register about their grandkids become Grinches. It’s like the start at LeMans, everyone just turning on the ignition and backing out without a look. Horns blare and very un-holiday like phrases are mouthed through windshields. Today, trying to get out of Costco, traffic was backed up ten cars deep in three directions because one car was trying to turn left on a busy street. For two or three minutes nothing moved and to my left, an otherwise pleasant looking woman in an SUV was having a conniption, blowing her horn repeatedly and gesturing to the offending vehicle to turn right. I’m not much of a lip reader but I’m sure she wasn’t singing Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. When the traffic finally moved, she swerved around two cars to be first out, leaving rubber as she cut of an oncoming car. Behind her at the traffic signal one block later, I noted the had a Spay and Neuter Saves Lives license plate frame and a COEXIST bumper sticker. Funny. ‘Tis the season. If Santa decided who’s naughty and nice in parking lots, he’d have a lot less to do on Christmas Eve.
I get a choice at this time a year whether to get sucked into the hustle of the season or to take a deep breath and be nice to someone, to blast my horn at someone backing out in front of me or smile and let them go. At this time of year, I try to ignore my Inner Curmudgeon and listen to my Inner Santa. Today … on my first successful shopping day of the Holiday Season … that’s easy.