With the holiday only hours away, I'm finding myself waxing nostalgic for days gone by...stories told, adventures experienced, dreams unrealized. I'm wishing that I had been more prepared for the holidays, and able to relax and enjoy them. Document them.
But alas. I'm not even done shopping, and the handmade gifts that I had hoped for may end up being valentines.
For now, I'll settle for sharing a holiday memory with you.
A few years back, my mom, two friends and I decided to go to a grand bazaar in our area. It is Victorian themed, with carolers, folks dressed in Victorian attire, shows, and buildings full of booths, offering wares of every type imaginable. Many were handmade, and not only provided excellent gifts, but inspiration. It was always a day to bask in the glow of the holiday.
We began the day by hitting some major retailers along the way. Two of us had tween aged children, and rarely had time to shop. We would rush into Wal-Mart or Target, list in hand, and fill a cart in no time. We would fill the trunk, then rush off to indulge in a day of perusing the aisles of trinkets at the fairgrounds.
The two ladies were already at the car as Mom and I left Target. I could barely push my laden cart. I had filled my childrens' wish lists and found a few goodies for myself, too. I was quite pleased and jubilant to be so organized.
And then I spied the bell ringer.
"Oh, no," I lamented. "My purse is buried under all of my stuff. How will I dig out change to add to the bucket?"
"It won't matter. I have given all month to every bucket that I've passed. I've given to local food banks, and bought gifts for the angel tree. I don't need to give this time."
"But HE doesn't know that. He's going to see my cart loaded with Christmas and think that I'm a selfish snob!"
"No, I can't dig out my purse. I'll just push past him in a hurry and he won't notice."
"But he's a man 'of color'. He'll think that I'm discriminating against him! He'll think that I'm being racist!"
"It's okay. I'll flash him my warmest smile and wish him a hearty Merry Christmas, and he'll know that I'm a good person and that I've given elsewhere, that I respect him as a person and am not just ignoring him."
I put on my best smile and gazed into his deep brown eyes.
"Oh, no! What if he is offended by Merry Christmas! Maybe I should say Happy Holidays like they tell us to at work! Be politically correct!"
By this time, I'm staring at him and need to speak soon before he thinks that I'm a stalker or something.
"But he's wearing a Santa hat. He MUST be Christian, and I can say Merry Christmas. SPEAK, Jaycie, speak! Just say something!"
What came out was: "Merry Hoppity!", a rather awkward and mangled version of Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays thrown together.
But I said it with conviction, and it was too late to try to recover at this point. I held my head high and pushed my cart swiftly past him as if this was my standard greeting. I was barely holding it together when Mom caught up with me about 15 feet later.
"What did you just say to him???" She asked incredulously.
I began giggling so hard that I could hardly push my cart. Tears streamed out of my eyes as I tried to explain without attracting more undue attention. I was afraid to look back.
By the time that we reached the car, neither of us could speak, and we barely caught our breath between attempts to explain our condition to our friends.
It's a story that we love to tell for many reasons, the first being that the mind is a scary place to venture into alone. One should not overanalyze the Salvation Army buckets out front. One should not contemplate the thoughts that occur as we bicker with ourselves in our own minds. And we should never speak until we are sure that we are going to do so in our native tongue. Or at least a reasonable facsimile of. It is also a festive memory of friends, laughter, and the spirit of the season, and nearly always ends with a good belly laugh. No matter how many times I tell it.
Merry Hoppity to all!