Christmas has long since not been my favorite holiday. In fact, I blogged about my disdain for the superficiality that overcomes so many people around this holiday just last year both here and here. I attribute much of my disgust to the many years I have worked in retail. Christmas time has always seemed to bring out the worst in people and working in a customer service based job with ridiculously extended hours dealing with multitudes of cranky people is enough to make anyone into a Scrooge.
That being said, I would be lying if I told you I didn't pay any attention all day Friday to hear how Black Friday sales were going. I was texting friends who were working to see if it was as crazy as last year and popping onto MSN and CNN on and off throughout the day. After 22 of years working every single one of them, I suppose old habits die hard. When the reports of shootings, muggings and pepper spraying came across, the Scrooge in me instantly reappeared as I read and watched with pure disgust. Seeing YouTube clips of people pushing and shoving, trying to rip items out of someone else's hands left me wondering why we even bother at all.
I had promised myself that this year I would approach Christmas differently than I have in a very long time. I want to rekindle my love for the holiday that makes my daughter's eyes twinkle and my curmudgeonly teen son smile a giddy, child like smile. This year, instead of my husband going all alone to cut down our tree like he has had to for the past two years, we would go as a family. Rather than slapping the tree together and putting out a few decorative things (because putting them away is way too much work) this year I would decorate the house both inside and out with the same fervor I used to. This year will be different.
Sunday was the first day I left the house to go to a store. I had come up with my plan to decorate both house and tree and needed some garlands along with a few other things. My daughter and I headed over to our local Michael's Craft store and much to my surprise it was jam packed! As I walked through the doors I could feel myself stiffen up as I saw the swarm of people. I needed a shopping cart which made navigating the crowd more difficult. Anytime I stopped to look at something someone was either squeezing by or leaning in making it grossly uncomfortable to shop and taking away any concentration I had and needed.
I know I looked like a nasty witch trying to shop and sighing audibly when people came too close. Just to look at the garlands I had to keep circling around the fixtures again and again because there was no way to comfortably stop and shop. Aggravating. But I am as stubborn as I am wordy and I would be damned if I left without the things I needed.
After stalking the garland fixtures about 6 times I finally spotted the perfect one! Unfortunately, it was only one. To fulfill it's purpose, I needed one more. I went back to stalking in case there was one hiding behind another. As I was looking an older woman stopped me and commented about how much she loved the one in my hand. I told her how it was perfect and I just needed one more because only one wouldn't do.
Another crowd surge forced me to head to other parts of the store and grab the other things I needed. When I was done I headed back for one more hopeful search. As I made my way around I saw the woman from before holding another one of my garland!
"Oh my goodness!" I said to her "You found them! Where are they?"
"This one was just hiding behind these others." she replied "I don't see anymore."
I was already frantically pawing through praying there would be just one more hanging there.
I shook my head and said aloud, "Oh well. They're all gone."
Just as I turned away the I could see the woman hesitate a second then she held hers out to me.
"Have this one." she said.
"No...I couldn't....are you sure?" I didn't put up too much fuss....I wanted it!
"Yes." she responded. "Merry Christmas!"
I asked her if she was sure again about 5 times and she just kept saying, "Yes. Take it. Merry Christmas."
I thanked her profusely, took the garland and found myself in a state of semi shock. For all of the awful things I hear and see, I was reminded that there are still some truly amazing people in this world. People who are the Spirit of Christmas through their actions and their words. Someone I don't even know, a total stranger warmed my heart and helped me remember how special this holiday truly can be.
As for the garland, it is hung on my dining room mirror and looks just as fabulous as I thought it would. As for that generous woman, she will be in my thoughts and well wishes every time I look at it.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.