I don’t know about you, but this is not my favorite time of year. We’ve made it through Thanksgiving (something to be thankful for in itself) and there’s another month to go.
I’m currently looking for an ornament for a friend’s granddaughter, so yesterday afternoon I ventured into a store that was new territory for me. I’d seen the signs pointing the way to the Christmas Tree Shop on the other side of the mall that also houses Whole Foods and thought that seemed a likely place to try. I had no idea what I was walking into. I had an image of a quaint and charming little shop, festooned with garlands and twinkling with lights, the kind of place that warms the heart, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.
What I walk into instead is a Big Box Store for CHRISTMAS. (Capital letters indicate the extent to which I feel shouted at by the unrelenting CHEER.) Dozens of nutcrackers, in the guise of policemen, kings, Santas, chefs and what appear to be essential medical workers with their masks hanging around their necks, bare their teeth at me. There’s an inexplicable group of brides on the bottom shelf of their display, along with one distinctly outnumbered groom. Enormous elf dolls loom over me. Signs exhort me to Believe and feel Joy!
I near the exit at the same time as a petite Black woman whose shopping bag is overflowing with fake branches. She turns to me with a big smile and says, “I love that store! I always spend way too much but it gives me such great ideas for how to do things.” She waggles her bag so the branches wave. “I’m just replacing some stuff that’s getting old,” she says. “You know how it is, things get worn out.” I am touched by how energized and cheerful and friendly she is. “Happy holidays,” she finishes and, with another big smile, waves goodbye.
Maybe what’s getting worn out is my curmudgeonly attitude toward the holidays. We shall see.