Posted by: justawriter | December 16, 2009

Far Afield – I don’t care how you say it, just mean it

It’s that time of year again. The landscape has been carpeted with a white blanket that glistens like diamonds. Streets and homes sparkle with multicolored lights. The air is heavy with the aroma of Christmas cookies. There are lots of whispers and giggles as packages are smuggled into houses without a certain someone seeing. And television pundits are yelling their heads off over nothing.
It’s the annual War on Christmas, complete with chest-thumping and browbeating.
I just don’t get why people are so upset over how they are greeted this time of year. Why are we so worried about what some minimum wage earning teenager says when handing us our heart attack on a bun? It just doesn’t make sense to me. After all, the clerk’s biggest concern at the checkout line in the big box store is that the guy with 47 items doesn’t need a price check for the $3 squeezey toy for his dog. They don’t care about our holidays, only making it through the next couple weeks so they can escape and spend time with their families.
Sometimes the greetings we receive are scripted, because there are companies that want to control our shopping experience right down to the twinkle in the greeter’s eye. Sitting in their bastions of commerce, they also don’t care what kind of season we are going to have. They just want us to buy more, more and still more. If they determine that dressing their staff in kilts and pirate shirts with a fake arrow on their head will make people come to the store and buy more, by gosh that’s what the staff will be wearing next week. If they figured that insults would brings us back for more we would hear, “Your change sir, and up your nose with a rubber hose,” after every transaction.
That’s one of the reasons I am coming to enjoy shopping in Beulah more and more. The people who serve you are your friends and neighbors, not someone you’ll never see again and wouldn’t want to. If things aren’t too busy, there are lively conversations about kids and vacation plans and all the other chitchat about what’s happening in their lives. And when the money and merchandise have changed hands and there is a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, there is a better than good chance that they actually mean it.
Life in a larger community is a series of interactions between strangers. When you get into really large cities, you’ll run into people who wouldn’t spit on you if you were on fire. When someone is having a hard time in Beulah, there is almost always someone willing to lend a hand. You can’t go a week it seems without a benefit for someone who has had an accident or is seriously ill.
The Women’s Action and Resource Center Angel Tree program has more people wanting to donate than kids some years. That’s the real Christmas spirit, not what kind of decorations you put out on the lawn the day after Thanksgiving.
As I get to know Beulah, I am coming to see that it isn’t the kind of place where you have to force people to give the proper greeting to show they have the proper Christmas spirit. They show it every day by the way they treat their neighbors, friends and even the friends they haven’t met yet. It doesn’t matter if our holiday celebrations center around a tree, or a menorah, or even a simple reading of the Christmas story. The true spirit of this season resides in the heart, and not in the symbols and trappings that we surround it with.
So whatever you celebrate, here is a wish for a happy holiday, whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Winter Solstice or New Year. I will accept whatever good wishes you would like to direct my way with a glad and joyful heart. All I ask is that they be a sincere reflection of what you feel for the season and not just a meaningless pleasantry.

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