Many people are still writing complaints about the commercialism of Christmas and, sometimes it seems, are trying to make others feel guilty about giving gifts and trying their best to celebrate the holiday. I am getting so tired of people getting beat up for trying. Our local news headline this morning said, "Procrastinators are Clogging the Malls". What if the snow storm made it unsafe for them to go before? What if their unemployment ran out, but they are just trying to figure out something? I overheard one clerk say that she didn't get paid until the 21st and would have to do all of her shopping then. I just don't think the pressure of getting the best and newest game system or the sure to be sold out Tickle Me Elmo trick is where folks are at this year.
This Christmas in particular, I have noticed so many of my friends and relatives, and myself, saying that they are having a very hard time getting into the holiday mood. Even though it is now only a few days away! It is still Christmas for the little kids though, and they are not burned out, broke, and overly worried about the bills, so the show must go on. We go forward the best that we can with our efforts to make it special for them. Just like our parents and grandparents did before us.
When I was in Bend on Friday doing some Christmas shopping and getting the oil changed on my car, I had so much fun talking with others that I came across. Even though Wes had just died, and I felt sad on my drive into town, I got distracted once I was there. I decided to be as nice as I could be to everybody that I met that day. That decision certainly changed the direction of my day.
First, I went to Walmart. It had just opened, and only one kid was throwing a hysterical fit, and that was when I was leaving, so it wasn't so bad. I found some cool stuff, and enjoyed wandering around, thinking, and choosing gifts. The best part was when I was checking out. I visited with the cashier as she rang me up. She told me about her plans to visit her dying mother several hours away in the morning, and wondered if the snow storm was really going to hit us as hard as predicted. It was so cool to have a meaningful conversation with her. This is probably her mother's last Christmas ... and the storm did hit. Dang.
I went to a few more stores, and the clerks were so nice and so helpful. The cashier at Fred Meyer and I discussed how much cheaper Fred's was than the stores in Mayberry. For instance, the salsa that I buy was one whole dollar less, and it wasn't even on sale! As I was getting my oil and transmission fluid changed, I had plenty of time to visit with others. I met a nice lady from Burns and her dog, who live on a ranch in the boondocks. I talked to an older guy from Eugene who grew up around a mile or so from where I grew up. I visited with a man who hadn't heard about the upcoming storm. and was wondering the best way to drive to Portland. I asked another lady if I had already driven past Fred Meyers. I had. I always drive past it. I guess that I don't go there often enough. Nobody was grumpy. They were all being nice too.
On my last stop, I was waiting for my pizzas to get made. I sat next to an older lady who told me that she got herself a car battery for Christmas, since hers had gone kaput. She made Les Schwab gift wrap the new one for her. She blessed herself.
Did my positive and friendly vibes make me more approachable that day? Or were people on Friday also realizing that the gift of being nice is the best Christmas present that you can give?
In that vein, I want to give you two links about Christmas that you may enjoy as much as I did. One is from my friend Lisa Ricard Claro's blog, and it is an excellent piece of writing: The Spirit of Christmas.
The other is how the Lord used Jenny The Bloggess big time this year, in what turned into an inspirational snowball of Christmas giving. Even though she was kind of ornery with Santa and his wife last week. Way to go, Jenny, and thanks for giving God the credit: Jenny's Story.