Saturday, January 08, 2011

Merry Christmas, despite being a little late...

So this past year hasn’t been one of my favourites. To hit the high(?) lights, we’ve had a house fire that destroyed our house, two deaths in the family, money issues (who hasn’t) and I’ve finally quit a job that was sucking out my very soul.
There’ve been some up moments, (see the part about quitting that job?) and all the helpful, compassionate people who came to our assistance after the fire. People coming out of nowhere and being kind to us. Balanced as always by the (so - called) neighbour who informed me in front of the still smoking ashes of our home, that if we lived in an old house like that, what could we expect? I’ve always said it takes all kinds, so nice to be proven right O.o

Anyhoo, given all these rollercoaster moments I’ve been looking forward to December 31st with more anticipation than usual. Today is December 24th and I had planned all along to go shopping at Costco for the last minute gifts. I’d gotten into this habit a few years ago when certain children had reached the age of snooping and paying off the younger ones to do it for them.

Over the past few years I’ve become more than a little bit jaded with Christmas and the holidays in general. It’s been harder and harder to get excited about it and hold onto that wonderment. I suppose that’s a symptom of growing older but I was letting things slide for the kids, and that has been bothering me. Sure, they had presents and a nice turkey spread. We put up lights and went to the town hall for the school concert. We even do the family game night Christmas eve, unplugged if you will, a marathon evening of board games, most often Monopoly or Life and lately Scrabble and Risk have been making an appearance. Little traditions have been kept but there’s been something missing…something of the anticipation and joy of the season.

I was giving myself a talking to while driving to Costco. About how, this coming year I’d start my stocking-stuffer buying in January like I used to do, little odds and tidbits some to be wrapped some to be just discovered; and make some gifts, another habit that has gone by the wayside as the pressure of putting on Christmas became less and less interesting. I’ve long ago given up on knitted gifts for all but most Christmas mornings had someone exclaiming over something hand made by mom. An afghan, a sweater, a pair of much wanted wristees or even just a plain old scarf in just the right color had been unwrapped with anticipation on my part to see how the recipient would respond. That hasn’t happened in more than few years if I’m honest.

I spent a rather pleasant couple of hours at Costco as the crowds weren’t overly so and there were plenty of items I’d been looking forward to checking out without tipping my hand to the nosy children that usually accompanied me on shopping trips. I’d found everything I had planned on getting, a few things besides and reluctantly put back others with the hopes that on another trip with more extra available they’d still be there for purchase. DD#3’s new camera was in there, the navigational GPS thingie for hubby, more than couple blu-ray disks and books, always books for Christmas at our house as well as new pyjamas to wear Christmas Eve and most if not all of Christmas Day. Noting to myself that not all of our Christmas traditions had died I wandered to the checkout line.

I noticed a lady letting people go in front of her in line. She had one of those trolley platforms and while it was full it was mostly larger boxes. She’d waved at least two others through as I got up to her and was telling me to go on ahead too. I responded that she should go ahead as it was Christmas Eve and everyone wanted to be home. At her question about why I wasn’t in a hurry I told her that since hubby is a truck driver subject to the whim of a dispatcher and road conditions, Christmas at our house didn’t start till he got home anyway and that I had all day as he wasn’t expected till later than evening.

She smiled and got in line. As we waited our turns at the register we chatted. I often strike up conversations in line-ups and have passed an otherwise tedious time exchanging opinions on politics, current events and the weather with equal vigour. Hey, I am Canadian after all, and weather is an important topic of discussion. Especially interesting to me when I find someone who ‘remembers the big one of 19…aught something. *grin*.

During this chat we exchanged sentiments about how seeing the backside of 2010 would not be a bad thing. As I’ve mentioned we’ve had enough. She told me of a 50 year marriage ending in divorce and we both commiserated with the other that 2011 didn’t have to do much to be better. She paid for her purchases and was fiddling with her purse as the cashier started running mine through.

I turned to her and smiled, about to wish her a Merry Christmas when felt I needed to say something more. “You know, your ex probably just needed to get out of your life to make room for someone who really loves you. Or maybe you’re just one of those lucky people who loves themselves enough they don’t need that affirmation from someone.” She clasped my hand and holding it asked my name. I told her and she said, “Well my name is ******** and guess what, I’m your secret Santa and I’m going to pay for your order today.”

“You can’t,” was my immediate response, my mental tally had rang up near 750 or so and the thought of a stranger giving me nearly a thousand dollars shocked me. She was adamant and firm, telling me she’d said she was doing it and that was that. As she headed over to the ATM to get out cash the cashier remarked about how nice it was that my friend was doing that for me. When I told him and his packer person that I’d never laid eyes on this woman before in my life they both welled up with tears. I, too, was crying by now.

I did insist that we exchange information so we could talk again. Turns out she lives in a town I used to, and her dad had spent his last years in the town I now live in. When I asked her why she’d done this, she said that a little voice had told her she should when we’d been speaking in the line-up. She figured it was her Dad telling her to do a good deed.

When I got out to my vehicle I just sat there for a few minutes, somewhat overwhelmed. That’s the first time in a very long time that I’ve really felt the Christmas Spirit filling me so fully. I called my eldest daughter when I got home and told her about this. We have some ‘extra’ money coming in January with one thing or another. We’ve decided we’re going to go stake out a grocery store and have some fun. I think we’ll know the right person to pay this forward to when we see them.

P.S. I started writing this when I got home that evening, but for some reason it didn’t seem right to post it till now. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas season and that the best of 2011 finds its way to your home.

P.P.S I’ve been behind in my blog reading and just got to the Yarn Harlot's recent entries today. I wish I’d read her post about the traditions for New Year’s Eve in time, I’d have done them all.