Friday, January 11, 2019

Another One Down

Okay, call me a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays. There it was, late December, and I was still in a holiday funk, something was missing, and I knew what it was. I had done the Internet shopping thing and found it workable, but I needed the crush of large crowds to get me into the right frame of mind. I informed Jana I was going to Farmington for the day to wind up a few things. Actually, Jana's Internet proficiency had already carried the day, so there was little left to do. I just needed to get out into the last-minute shopping frenzy to secure my Christmas mood. As I prepared to leave, I kept thinking a little nip at the spiced eggnog might get me started properly. Since I was driving, I elected to forgo the treat, at least for the moment.

As I drove to New Mexico, Christmas carols were playing on the radio and I could feel my spirits beginning to lift. "Santa Baby" and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" came over the airwaves and I knew it was going to be a good day. When I arrived at my intended destination, the town was busy and people were in a jolly mood. I was hoping for some honking, shouting, and finger wagging, but everyone seemed happy and there was no ill will to be found. As I parked the car, I heard footsteps close by, and then, "Merry Christmas." I looked around to see a stranger with a happy smile on her face. I replied "Merry Christmas," climbed out of the car, and proceeded into the mall. I was beginning to think something was wrong with all these last-minute shoppers. I wondered, "Where are all the Grumps, Scrooges, and Grinches?"

At the first store, the clerks were joyfully restocking shelves and quick with answers to all my questions. Once I was pointed in the right direction, they moved off humming hymns. I found what I needed and proceeded to the checkout counter. There were plenty of registers open, so the wait was not long. As I stood in line with my purchases, a woman stepped in front of me. "Ahh, here’s my big opportunity," I thought and prepared to grab her by the scruff of the neck and shout, "I was here first." I decided it might be more prudent to just shoulder her out of the way. As I positioned myself, she sweetly looked up at me and said, "Oh, I'm sorry, are you in line?" efficiently ducking in behind me. With a frown on my face, I explained I was, "Just fixin' to shove you out of the way." She, assuming I was joking, roared with laughter. I found myself wanting to spontaneously hug her, but decided that might lead to arrest and incarceration. We exchanged, "Merry Christmases," and the clerk scanned my packages, sending me on my way with yet another "Merry Christmas." 

By this time, I was starting to worry, but felt confident I would find what I required in the music store, which was extremely busy. People were beboping to a holiday album. I fished in my pocket, pulled out the handwritten list, hailed a young woman, and demanded attention. She smiled, located everything I requested, suggested a few additional items, and went on her merry way. The clerk at the register happily processed me and sent me off with a smile and a "Happy Holidays." I smiled back and started to wish her happiness in return but managed to catch myself just in time, however, and I simply waived goodbye.

Next it was off to the lotions and potions store, where I poked around for a while until I was approached by a joyous woman about my age. I explained my dilemma, saying, "What should a man who doesn't understand females get for the woman in his life." I expected her to chuckle, saying something like, "You? You really have a woman in your life? Well now, that is truly extraordinary!" Instead, she responded by saying, "Don't worry, Honey, you are just like all the rest; none of you understand us. This is what you need." I flinched, she smirked, and we both laughed out loud. I realized she was right---about men and the gift selection.

Walking out of the store, I stopped in the middle of the mall. Santa was taking photographs with happy, polite, beautiful children. Everybody was laughing and Merry Christmas-ing. I suddenly realized I had found exactly what I had been looking for and started humming "Jingle Bell Rock," which was playing over the P.A. system. Finally, I was in the spirit.


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