Christmas has been, like much this year, a little weird, but also somehow just right. I've felt quite "spirited", full of Chistmas cheer and joy, pretty much since Thanksgiving (and even a little before that, once we decorated the store). And yet, here we are, two days out... and we don't have a tree, and a lot of other work has yet to be done.
I'm pretty sure, without looking, that I mention my love of Christmas each year; it's a family tradition, it's my Swedish heritage, and it's the optimistic kid inside of me, all rolled up. Working in retail - which has been a pretty consistent thread of my adult working life - can really grind the Christmas spirit right out of you. Us salesgirls are a hardened lot. Yet somehow, as if on cue, I hear carols and see decorations, a little switch inside me gets switched on.
And it helps to remember what's really important about Christmas and the season. In our way, the people I know who are serious about a life in retail, kind of share this notion: Christmas is so not about the things and the shopping and the decorations in October. If you can't get beyond that, if Christmas doesn't live somewhere besides the mall... I think one is bound to be disappointed, at some point in life.
One of my customers has been on pins and needles, waiting to see if her County government job would be saved from massive budget cuts, and that her county subsidized living arrangement wouldn't also go away. Yesterday, we got the final good news: her job is secure, at least for now, and she took the big step of finding a new home and is now just settling in. It is, as they say, a Christmas miracle.
I'm afraid I'm something of a traditionalist when it comes to the calendar year; I see the year ending and the new year coming and somehow, this time of year is all endings and beginnings, sum-ups and fresh starts. It's kind of obvious, kind of cliche... yet that's the pattern I see, over and over. I get to December, and my mind just starts to take stock. And plan for the next start.
As I've said, in some ways this has been a very weird, very hard year - emotionally and economically tough, full of strange endings and fresh uncertainties. This year has also been a real test of just how thoroughly I can keep up with my self-assigned task of writing continually and consistently. But here I am, at the end of the year, and I find myself focused on what remains: the good that exists, the joys that highlght my daily routines, the love I have and can freely share. As much as I don't love Lennon's Christmas carol (and this year, I realized, for the first time... it's not Yoko's fault), I find myself, for once, appreciating his song and it's simple opening. So this is Christmas... I hope you had fun.
I did, and I will.