The world is teetering on the brink of a global recession. People have lost faith in banks, the stock markets, and even their governments. It seems no one knows what to believe in any more. However, I believe in something that has never lied about its liquidity or promised “change” when it can’t deliver. I believe in something which offers hope, stability and promise for the future. I believe in drug store displays. The kind that that alert you to every celebration, feast, festival and jubilee that dots the Gregorian calendar. The ones that are filled with singing Santa during Christmas and dancing teddy bears around Valentine’s Day. The types of displays that are filled with tacky knickknacks that suggest it is only proper to purchase Peeps during Easter.
These makeshift Madison Avenue altars even offer hope in the middle of February. As New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen noted of February, “It is a suitable month for dying. Everything around is dead, the trees black and frozen, the ground is hard and cold, the snow dirty, the winter hateful, hanging on too long.” Yet inside our local drug stores there is optimism. On the shelves are cute toys, chocolates, and cartoon cards that remind us of Valentine’s Day. These things trigger our minds to think of hugs and kisses and other happy memories bringing us as much joy as a Whitman’s Sampler. Even after February 14th comes and goes, we can look forward to St. Patrick’s Day and then Easter. Drug store displays offer a never ending array of holidays in the middle of winter that string us along and make life just a little bit easier.
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, there is always something else to look forward to and drug store displays remind us of this fact. While at the time their persistence may seem annoying, in the end, they are more help than they are trouble. I admit that while the back-to-school displays that prematurely end my summer in August are depressing, the candies and decorations that summon Halloween a month early bring eternal hope to any student who believes the school year will never end.
Hope is a powerful thing, and whether it’s in the form of cheesy Mother’s Day cards or plastic Christmas decorations stamped with “MADE IN CHINA,” the good folks at CVS, Walgreen’s and RITE-AID offer it up to us almost every single day. For that I am grateful. Without even knowing it they stock their shelves with something bigger and better to look forward to with each passing holiday and season.
The truth is we need things to look forward to; they break up the monotony of everyday life. Indeed, even when we’ve hit rock bottom, when we’ve failed a test, or in the case of John Edwards, destroyed our marriage and political career, walking into a CVS or Walgreen’s can offer the consolation that something is always around the corner to brighten our days. As the world prepares for an economic downturn, our local drug store is stocked with all the stimulus packages we need. This I believe.
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