People these days are killing time, waiting, waiting, and waiting for the Christmas Spirit to usher in a more positive mindset. Hopefully, the sounds of familiar carols, the sight of brightly colored displays, and the thoughts of a tradition born from decades past will be enough to shake this funk for many of us. If you are like me, you too may have felt as though this December has been nothing more than a series of routine actions that we attempt, because the calendar tells us we need to do so. In my opinion, the elusive Christmas Spark just simply has not been able to be lit inside. And for those of you who may know me, you can understand the level of significance this yields. I have always embraced the season fully. More so than most people. This year, not so much.
I sat in my car last Sunday, waiting for the ice to melt on the outside of my windshield. The heater blowing cool air back at me in the process, almost made perfect sense. Again, why bother. The store is only a mile and a half away, but I mustered up enough energy to head there so I could take advantage of some compelling shopping offers for items I didn’t really need. Not being one to readily pass up a bargain, this grinch sat in the chilling car and drove to the retail location accordingly, to spend money I shouldn’t have been spending.
Placing a mask over my aging face, giving the dry hands a squirt of liquid sanitizing peace of mind, I then marched in with purpose as the sounds of holiday music quickly faded in my ears by personal design. Mission focused, no songs of joy were going to change this mood. Certainly not that easily. I was a bundled up middle-aged downtrodden man that morning. Shopping hastily for some meaning to the season this year, completely unaware it was about to find me instead.
I always preach the notion of perspective to people, as it yields a chance for each of us to come back to center a bit in terms of life’s importance. As I turned the corner with a shopping cart acting as my personal guide, I met a small child.
I could actually see the excitement in his eyes, as he spoke loudly to his “auntie”. His mask- covered smile was less obvious but was more than represented by the general enthusiasm in his tone which quickly compensated for any hidden grin anyway. He was absolutely through the moon in the middle of aisle three. Paying almost no mind so as not to cast my hum-glum over his positivity, I proceeded up the row quickly with all intentions of walking on by without incident. The boy in my estimation who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years of age, wasn’t having any of it, however. He stopped me mid-stride and let it fly!
His clothes were made from less than quality materials and were drab in color, hair mussed, and the shoes on his feet had seen quite a few steps in their day. It didn’t matter to this hopeful little guy, his holiday had been made that Sunday morning. He had found the perfect way to express his love for his Grammy on December 25th, as I found out too, he also lived with her.
He had a teddy bear grasped firmly by his tiny arms, one which appeared to be no less than the size of Texas in terms of scale and scope taking up the entire cart. This thing was huge. It cost $29.99 which clearly was a lot of money for his auntie, but she noddingly was going to make it possible for him. He was very, very proud to have selected it as a gift for his caregiver.
There was no mention of his mom or dad, nor did I inquire. This child spoke incessantly to me about how “excited his gramma was going to be on Xmas morning to see this bear.” He could barely contain himself, as his breathing raced while proudly communicating with me his intentions for said purchase. He told me so, and just about everyone else who may have been within earshot of that section within the store.
I parted shortly thereafter from the two of them and proceeded on over to the check-out. My bill was small, but I asked the associate to round it up another $29.99 on behalf of the “boy with the bear”. To which I simply said, “when he comes through to pay for his special gift, wish him a Merry Christmas and say thank you. The bear was already paid for.”
I drove home feeling much better about my own circumstance that day, while also wishing perhaps I had asked them at the store to turn up the holiday music just a tad bit louder too. Tis’ the season, right?
Life isn’t about what you expect to find, life is about what finds you. Sometimes, when you least expect it.