There's a lot going on politically, these days...new elected officials being sworn in (congrats to Joe McNamara), others preparing for the change of office in January, deficits in budgets in the City of Toledo and the County, issues of cuts - perhaps in fire service - in Sylvania/Sylvania Township, ... and these are just the ones getting attention in the news on a local level.
But this time of year, despite all the pressing problems and challenges, is the time that people start to think of things other than politics. After inundating our families with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and pies - and all the leftover recipes that follow, we begin to plan for what can be a hectic, but fun, time of year. A time of rejoicing, giving and new beginnings.
My family did attempt to shop on the Friday after Thanksgiving - for about 30 minutes. We made one stop around 9:30 a.m. and realized that there was no way to gather a few items, pay for them, and get out by 11:30 for another family event. Perhaps it was foolish to think that 2 hours would be enough to buy a couple pairs of gloves...but our conclusion was that a 50% discount of $6 was about $3/hour for our wait - even the minimum wage is more than that.
But we did go out Saturday morning. The shops didn't open at 5 a.m., but many were open at 6, and while the glove discount wasn't 50%, it was 40%. Our arrival at one store at 7:20 meant that we shopped with only about 10 other people. The sales clerks had time to check the stock in the back room and seemed relieved that it wasn't a repeat of the previous day - yet.
The stores in the mall opened at 8, which was perfect timing. We had time to shop, have some personal attention to questions or suggestions and didn't feel pressed for time, or rushed, or frazzled. The sales clerk at the Discovery Store even had time to help me with a phone order for an item that wasn't stocked in the store - and I was very grateful! We had time to wander around a bit and have a cup of coffee before returning home for brunch (with leftovers, of course).
After our delicious brunch and the family had all left, we put up all our outside Christmas decorations and took the convertible out for a ride.
Had we not experienced such a delightful shopping trip on Saturday and an easy installation of our lights, I don't know if I'd be in the same holiday mood I'm in now. Maybe, but I'm not sure.
Now, unlike the last several years, I'm actually looking forward to getting our tree this weekend and putting on all the ornaments. For a while now, I've seen this as a chore, but this year it seems to be a pleasure. I'm planning our Christmas day meal (something OTHER than turkey and ham) and even getting excited about our annual New Year's Eve party with our dear friends.
I could speculate about what's different this year, but that would require a reflection and concentration that seems too much for this pleasant mood. Besides, I know the answer - but acknowledging it would also mean acknowledging the negative impact my job has had on me over the last 13 years. Like any job, there are positives and negatives, and this time of the year, I'd rather just enjoy the spirit of the holidays and not let anything interfere with that.
So, some things I'm doing: not letting the 'buying' interfere with the 'giving,' relishing kindnesses from people you don't know, savoring the site of wonder in children's eyes, anonymously giving and enjoying the feeling it generates, delighting in the lights and decorations as we drive around at night, appreciating the good wishes, taking pleasure in the things I may have overlooked in the past, and more dearly valuing the company of family and friends.
As I take this break from the everyday struggles and issues, I hope that you, too, will be able to take advantage of this time of the year - for the reflection it brings and the opportunity it presents to see the important things in life.
The Nutcracker Suite
The Night Before Christmas, the Whole Story
Area Theater Productions