I had to run out yesterday to do some errands. I didn't want to. I try to adhere to a strict "do not go out one week prior to or post christmas" schedule. I always fail, but I always try. People get mean around this time of year, which is weird. They also get stupid. Which is also weird.
This is "the most wonderful time of the year". Somewhere along the line people have forgotten that the season does that all by itself. It is wonderful. People come home (well not all people, it would be nice if everyone got to go home). We are celebrating the birth of the lord Jesus. Or we are celebrating a miracle over seven days if we are Jewish. Or we are celebrating unity of a people if we are celebrating Kwanzaa. Or we are celebrating the solstice. There are as many winter celebrations as there are denominations. Not a single one of them requires the level of stress and nastiness we place upon ourselves...and others.
I digress. I went out yesterday to pick up a prescription from the doctor's office, dog food, and some sundry groceries. I wouldn't have gone if the flu hadn't kept me from doing it earlier in the week. I was dreading the experience. I was still weak and tired and the thought of the stairs at the doctor's office and the forty pound bag of dog food were daunting. As I pulled onto the main road I immediately noticed the marked increase in traffic. There were people every where.....driving like they had never been behind the wheel before. Crazy tailgating weavers. Cell phone talking distracted drivers. People driving 10 mph UNDER the speed limit. People turning left from the main lane instead of getting in the turn lane. Still I forged on. The doctors office was quick in and out. Petsmart however was slammed. WTH....people need last minute pet gifts? I parked a way aways and walked down the aisle towards the store. Then I stood while six cars raced past me, refusing to let me cross over to the store. There was a bigger gap after the sixth so I walked across quickly....car 7 flipped me off. Nice. The aisle in the pet store were full of people who seemed oblivious to the fact that they and their cart took up the entire aisle....and that when someone said "excuse me" the evil eye was not an appropriate response. I saw a poor woman with a picture printed from the internet wander the aisles the whole time I was in there, the staff finally helped her as I was checking out.
When I was on my way to the grocery store, I decided to smile at everyone I saw. Since its a local grocery store, its pretty easy - I always see people I know. I smiled at the old lady and old man who scowled at me as I passed them in produce (they were moving at the speed of snail). I smiled at another teacher and at our tech lady. I smiled at the lady trying to keep her kid in the cart. I do owe an apology to the woman who offered me a sample of eggnog ice cream. I grimaced. It was too close to vomit time to even think that sounded interesting, I couldn't help it.
When I got home I was tired and frazzled. Had I done enough? There were so many things I didn't do, decorations I didn't put up, items I didn't buy. Were my kids going to have the best Christmas? Why did I have to get sick during crunch time? Then I got online and read my facebook and the blogs I follow....
Here's what I learned - a friend's mom got admitted to the hospital, a friend's baby won't be home for christmas after all, a friend's crazy ex sent a christmas card (another in a long string of psychological abuses), a friend is missing her BFF who died earlier this year, a boy will be spending christmas in the psych ward after his father walked out on the family, several friends are just now getting this flu, a friend's brother got in a car accident....
I looked at my wacky boys, writing letters to Santa, wondering if they should make him a gift, if he will like the cookies. They are excited to go see their friend in a Christmas pageant at church tonight. They are excited to go see lights tomorrow.
The magic of the season isn't in what you did or did not buy. The magic of the season is in your family and friends. The magic of the season is in being imperfect. For me, tomorrow is the day I celebrate that from humble roots, in a manger full of animals, in a bed of straw, a king was born!