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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Grinchmas? Happy Humbug? What am I missing here?

Sometimes, the holiday season really depresses me.  There's just so much focus on consumerism and the me-ish-ness of it all, that I can't fathom what or why we are celebrating in the first place.  I really try to teach my kids that the holidays, Christmas in particular (because that's what we celebrate around here, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ), are not about them, but about what they can do for others.  Which is really a pain in the butt-shelf to accomplish, what with the daily toy catalogs from big-box stores, extra 3 minutes of commercials with outlandish toys meant for adults yet targeted during the 3-7 age group cartoon marathons, and constant questions of what they want for Christmas.  I mean, come on people, since when did we decide to shamelessly promote selfishness during the season of GIVING?

It's been my recent experience that many people become rude, antagonistic, self-centered shrews who would just as soon mow you down with their shopping cart or back their car into your in a vain attempt to snag a parking spot 35 milimeters closer to the front door as they would smile at you, or wish you a Happy/Merry something.  It's sad, disgusting, and generally infuriating, although it's tough to remain infuriated long when surrounded by 3 kids who gasp in awe at depictions of the Nativity, or a house draped in millions of tiny energy-sucking lights.

Nevertheless, I decided to brave the madness of Target a few days ago, to spend the gift card my cousin had blessed us with for the holidays, along with the random one that came addressed to me in the mail from an anonymous friend.  I went in, fully prepared to abandon cart and make like a snake & slither through the jam-packed toy aisles, muttering excuses and begging pardons to reach the second-to-last of whatever, hoping that my cart would be where I'd left it 17 seconds earlier.  Also to ignore the plaintive whines and moans of the shoppers and tag-alongs.

I began my adventure in the parking lot, were I was almost rear-ended twice, and some wild man in a Prius almost took me out as I crossed an empty parking spot near the door.  The guy on cart-duty outside tried really helpfully to take my cart, and seemed genuinely confused when I thanked him but refused to give up my surprisingly steady and non-squeaky cart.

I gained access to the toy area after bypassing the chaos of the dollar-bins and the shoe department, which are usually my own personal kryptonite.  I witnessed nearly miraculous things. 

I saw older couples dividing and conquering in an attempt to satisfy the grands' wishes without breaking the bank or a hip in the process.  It was kinda cute to see grandpa staring helplessly at the huge bank of Barbie dolls and accessories as grandma walked away telling him to pick one and an outfit to go with it.  I took pity, asked a few leading questions, and sent him on his way with a cute brunette and fashionable party dress.  I think I ran into grandma in the RC vehicles area too.  Helped her find the last one of a sale item, that had been magically shoved two shelves up and behind some play-doh.  I hope her grand kids have fun with it - TT2 was hoping for one of those.

I also saw (gasp!) HELPFUL EMPLOYEES!  One woman was fortunate enough to come across a young guy (wow, I feel old writing that!) who was willing to help her find each and every item on her list, despite the fact that he did not work in the toy department, and had to search for everything.  He kept apologizing for walking her back and forth along with department, but she was just so grateful for the assistance, that it was becoming comical to listen to the apologies and effusive thanks being exchanged.  The same woman, following her helper with laden cart, begged pardon to pass, and actually THANKED me for my attitude when I obligingly backed up a bit, smiled and gave her a 'Sure thing, no problem'.  We exchanged heartfelt Merry Christmases, and went on our way.

I saw a guy, likely an uncle judging from the blank stare he was aiming at the learning toys, standing in the same spot for at least 10 minutes while shoppers rushed around him, shoved past him, and just generally ignored him.  I finally decided I had to get into that area for the last 2 things on that days' list, and gently asked if he wanted any help.  He started, looked at me like I had a third eye (or perhaps a monster zit), then proceeded to flip out about why there are 3 different leapsters and how in the whuck he is supposed to know what the kid has and so on.  I asked if he'd seen the device in question - he had.  I asked what color it was - pink.  We determined that the Leapster2 came in pink with purple buttons, and found a game appropriate for his niece.  Thankfully, there was more than 1 game, since I had come for the same one!  The man walked dazedly out of the fourth level of hell toy department, muttering about how to wrap the thing.  I just 'happened' to walk by mumbling audibly about gift bags being easy and near the registers, and tissue was a dollar.  I thought I was rather clever, don't you?

Anyway.  Those positive interactions served to lead me back to my Christmas spirit.  I think I spent more time grabbing things off of high shelves and helping with the price scanner than I did actually flinging items into my own cart.  The smile on my face seemed to part the seas of disgruntled shoppers and hangers-on, not that I'm likening myself to Moses or anything!  I did not have to wrestle for a single item, and actually ended up with something I think TT2 will enjoy more than the helicopter, and get more use out of (because we all know how long toys last around boys under 8).

I feel so blessed to have been able to, through the generosity of others, obtain some of the items most wished for on my kids' lists, and I'll be sure that they know those things are from the people who made them possible.  I hope that, in some small way, I've been able to spread that blessing and a little Christmas cheer by resisting the holiday funk, and doing my best to practice what I preach: Do Unto Others. 

How is the holiday season treating you?  Have you found your Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa spirit?

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Gimme some love and tell me what you think! No really, I can take it. I'll just double-up on those anti-depressants first.

I may not be able to reply back quickly (I am a mom after all), but I read each and every word you type!