This I Believe

mary ann - brooklyn, New York
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

It is early morning the week before Christmas, the house is dark and quiet and here I sit cold and humble with a cup of tea, contemplating the final challenges of the yearly Thanksoweenhanukakwanamerryxmasathon. The living room is a profusion of ribbons, uncooperative lights, ornaments, and decorations, but they lie scattered about, victims of yesterday’s overzealous but unrealistic ideas of how much I can accomplish in any given day. A lonely Santa ornament lies belly up on my couch,… he telling me something?

Everywhere people are running about, overtired and overspent, in more than one way, with nerves frayed and patience lost in crowded stores and long lines. But before I start sounding like a Scrooge, Grinch, or say…Dick Cheney, let’s face it, we’re all out there together trying to find the thing that will put a smile on the faces of the people we love most in this world. Which reminds me of a true story….not too long ago I found myself on one of those relentless holiday store lines. I had finally and gratefully reached the cashier, my tired arms brimming with gifts. I was at the point of signing for my credit card when the woman behind me threw her purchases, with attitude I may add, onto the counter and on top of my writing hand. Now, and I don’t mind telling you, I very nearly turned green and outgrew my clothes, when suddenly I was overtaken with the spirit of the season….as if being enlightened by some ghost of Christmas past. But as it turned out my sudden change of mood was brought on by my all time favorite Christmas song, “Jingle Bell Rock “ which at that very moment began playing throughout the store. With a “minglin in the jinglin beat” pulsing through my soul, I turned to this woman and said, “It is so frustrating waiting on these longs lines especially when we have so many other things to do”. I quickly asked her who she was buying gifts for, commenting on her purchases, ( from which I had discreetly pulled my hand out from under,) and on the wonderful store we were in, with such nice and helpful people working there. The woman’s attitude vaporized and drifted away to some dark and craggy place where all attitude belongs. In its place a smile and a camaraderie arose. The next thing you know she is telling me how she makes her fish sauce for Christmas Eve. The cashier who a moment before had rolled her eyes with exasperation at the projectiled purchases was now smiling as she handed me my shoppings bags. I wished everyone a Merry Christmas, walking through the store singing “Jingle Bell Rock”, with feeling I may add, and then in one glorious impromptu moment a man paused from his shopping turned towards me and we stood together singing. Suddenly my arms still laden with gifts didn’t feel so tired, and with a lightness of being I went on my “Merry” way. And to think it easily could have gone so the other way.

The sun has come up, my tea is cold and it is time for me to start another day. My “to do” list, is unreasonably optimistic and unencumbered by reality,(not unlike our president), but somehow it makes me feel good. And after all these years I figured out that no matter what does or doesn’t get done, December 25th will arrive right on schedule. To think all this fuss began with a silent and holy night. But, hey….. wait a minute here, who had to clean up after all those wise men and camels left?