Friday, November 18, 2011

Easing into the spirit

I've got the holiday spirit. Just seems like yesterday, though, that I stood in the aisle of a Super Walmart with Halloween decorations and candy just marked down and not even sitting there long enough to have been picked over, while the music blasting from the store sound system befuddled me. "Santa Claus is coming to town!" was quickly followed by "Silver bells, it's Christmas time in the city!"

This was too loud, too much, too soon. After all, it was only November 1, and it used to be that we didn't think about Christmas until Thanksgiving with the arrival of Santa Claus in the parade. The music blaring, it all came over me so suddenly. I held up my arms high and spoke to the Walmart gods. "He's not coming to town and it's not Christmas time in the city!" Everyone around me laughed out loud. Oops, I didn't just say that in my quiet voice to myself. Oh, well, I struck a nerve.

Most of the folks standing nearby took the opportunity to comment on the changing times, that it was all too soon, so contrived. Some just shook their heads disapprovingly at the blast of Christmas when they just weren't ready. One middle-aged woman, however, was a little nasty about it all. She was all too happy to commiserate with everyone, but felt compelled to take it to another level as she saw an opportunity to yell at a poor, unsuspecting WM worker who was unfortunate enough to turn down our aisle.

I cringed while she blasted him and threatened to call corporate. Ew, I was just joking about the too-soon Christmas tunes. Everyone else seemed embarrassed by the woman's behavior also. We never thought it would turn nasty. It was just fun to connect for a moment with folks you'd never see again. Then the women turned to me since she must have mistaken my humor for misery, and she asked me what flavor of Gatorade is best for a hangover. Ha! That was her issue!

I answered her question with a question. "Well, what color do you want to see when it comes back up to visit?" She didn't answer. Then I more helpfully offered "green lemon-lime," but not because it's Christmas-y. She muttered that it wasn't for her, picked up some orange, and then walked away. I got what I needed and headed out myself, glad to end another special adventure in Walmart.

Fast-forward two weeks. I'm back in Super Walmart, but a different one, one more local to my neighborhood. I walk in the store and I'm mesmerized by the full displays of holiday goodies. I find Christmas Santa and snowy winter T-shirts for my two long-haired Chihuahuas. Ninety-seven cents each! What a deal! I buy two for each pup.

I find cute holiday cocktail napkins to add to my collection. I love the ones with silly sayings. I pick up "I'm Dreaming of a White Chocolate Christmas!" and "Dear Santa,  I've been naughty...but it was so WORTH IT!" Yes, I'm silly myself.

I see the toy aisles bulging and decide I might as well pick up some goodies for my niece and nephew. I'm finding stuff, useful stuff. I stroll through the aisles with decorations and revel in the fact that I'm getting a first look at fully stocked shelves before the mania begins. I don't need to buy anything, but I'm enjoying the festive novelty, the bright colors....and then I realize, the quiet solitude. No blaring Christmas music! This store is just letting us be. Just letting us figure out on our own that we're interested and ready to think about the holidays. So nice, respectful, actually quite smart of them, and much appreciated by me, I think.

So as you may guess, my next errand was at my favorite neighborhood store, Trader Joe's. Lo and behold, the shelves were stocked with all the holiday goodies that I wait for each year and some new ones also. Mini gingerbread men, dark chocolate sea salt caramels, peppermint pretzel slims, dark chocolate minty mallows, minty melts, candy cane Joe-Joe's, Italian panettone, and Weissella soft gingerbread cookies from Germany, both sugar- and chocolate-glazed, are all favorites that have to be brought home.

New and sounding so appealing was "a very Merry Mingle candy." The box carols "cranberries, pecans, and caramel don their dark chocolate apparel, creating a heaping helping of holiday candy" (I love those TJ writers). Chocolate truffle filled figs made it into my cart also, as did some other unavoidable goodies. It was official. It was the beginning of my holiday season. Trader Joe said so, and that's all I needed to hear.

Holiday goodies from Trader Joe's. He always does it right.
So, the next work day, on my commute home, I decided to test if I was really ready for some holiday spirit. I tested the waters and searched for some Christmas tunes on the radio. Now I wondered if I was truly ready. It's one thing to buy some goodies. That I'm always up for. But in-your-face non-stop Christmas tunes--it may just be too soon.

I found 100.7 FM, WLEV in Allentown, PA, had Christmas on the playlist. An elegantly intricate orchestral arrangement of "We Three Kings" was playing. I liked it and listened. I thought about it, though. If they start blasting "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," I'm outta here. But then John Lennon cooed "So this is Christmas..." Ah, if John says so, how can it not be? I kept listening.

John was soon followed by one of my favorites. Classic Andy Williams crooning "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Ah, I love that song. All my kids will be home this Christmas! Still listening.

The next tune was "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Eh, it was Amy Grant, not Andy Williams' classic rendition, but still I listened since I guessed it wouldn't be fair to play Andy twice in a row. Anyway, yes, it is a wonderful time of the year, I think.

As I pulled into my garage, a beautiful arrangement of "Carol of the Bells" played as I reluctantly turned off the radio. I unloaded from the car all the trappings of my work day and workout after and then realized that, yes, I am in the holiday spirit! In my own good time, without force or undue influence, I have eased into the holiday spirit. As it should be. In our own good time...

Until next time, yours in fun and spirit (when you're ready)...Therese

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