I knew it was time to leave NY when I witnessed a near fight. Let me set the scene for you: It's my last day at the department store job. It's also the Saturday before Christmas. I'm on my lunch break. There are very few chairs and a very many people. Two older women approach one table at the same time. One sits. The other stares incredulously before declaring that she was there first and thus entitled to the table. The demander wins the fight only when she begins lobbing "Merry Christmas"s like ammunition.
It was amazing. Try it. "Merry Christmas" is one potent insult when spoken with just enough vim and venom.
So now I'm in Houston braving the department stores here. And after milling and seething through today's crowds at Memorial City, I'm left wondering...what recession? That is until my mother reminds me of the story she saw on the news of a 52 year-old-man who lost his job and was thereby forced to take work as a janitor and apply for food stamps. They showed his fridge on the news. He had nothing in it. And he had eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner the night before.
My mom told us it would be a lean Christmas this year. But let's be honest I'll never really know a lean Christmas (well, I don't want to say never because things can change in a heartbeat, but to a large degree, it's doubtful). But I fear my mom still thinks my brother and I measure Christmas by how many presents are under the tree. We don't. I couldn't really care less. Yes, yes, sometimes I get obsessed by the little things I've asked for, but it's more about knowing I've been heard. Knowing someone's listened to what I had to say or that they've thought about me. It really is the thought that counts. Cliche, but so true.
While perusing the stores in Boulder over Thanksgiving, cousin Brian pulled a Christmas card off the rack. It said something to the extent of Christmas: Celebrating the Birth of Santa Claus. It was meant to be funny (well, satirical), but the funniest (or saddest) part was how long it took Brian and myself to figure out the joke. It seemed like a statement. A true statement. I may not be a very religious person, but I'm quite sure that the spirit of Christmas was nowhere to be found in that mall today, or in the little cafe on my last day of work.
So here's the thing. I'm okay with a person celebrating Christmas because of the birth of Santa Claus. So long as we're clear on what Santa Claus is:
He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence . We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished...Is it all real? In all the world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
So, let me say I'm thankful for him and Him. And the grace and love and faith that both bring into my life on a daily basis. And guess what? Those things don't require gift wrapping.
On a separate note:
Addendum to yesterday's post.
Let me be clear about this...I loathe Speidi. With everything in me. Well, not everything...because that would mean I actually care about the two of them and I don't. Word to the wise: Heidi, when you tell everyone about your wedding and feel the need to justify it by describing the night-before-tequila, something is amiss. And Spencer when she answers your question in the courtroom by saying, "I shouldn't have to tell you..." she's right. She shouldn't have had to tell you. Get your head out of your ass.
(Dear blog-spot-lover I'm sorry I've just sunk to new lows by blemishing your facade with Speidi ranting, but I had to get it off my chest.)
And in other news....
I know I said I'd mary you in the rain, but this would be mighty fine too...