I finished the bulk of my holiday shopping on election night in a small quiet store near my home.
I desperately needed a diversion.
Then on Black Friday I rose early and mailed those gifts to friends and family from an empty post office.
The peace was almost deafening.
On Small Business Saturday, my chi pup Rex and I walked the sunny beach at the lake and climbed the short ladder to the life guard station.
Luckily no one needed our help as we had a little business of our own to take care of.
I’d brought a small stack of holiday cards up there to pen as we kept an eye on a couple of fishing boats off in the distance.
After a while, we climbed back down and followed our noses over to a blazing bonfire by the trolley tracks.
Santa was already there, greeting all in line for their rides on an old wreath adorned golden trolley.
Rex and I opted instead for one hot chocolate, laced with small marshmallows and a s’more cooked to order by a smiling Boy Scout nearby. Both were being sold as part of his troops’s fundraiser.
Rex appeared to love his first sweet graham cracker.
And I loved my avoidance of stores this weekend even more I thought while licking every bite of chocolate off my fingers.
It seems a break in tradition can be quite delicious.
The temp had risen to three above. To celebrate, I left my job before dark while I could still see the ice on the roads and to take advantage of a free birthday coupon that was about to expire for a sausage pizza I love.
The driver in the shiny new BMW behind me in the right lane, chose to sit inches behind my tail pipe. We were driving on an icy road with heavy traffic, approaching a red light. I’d irritated him because I wasn’t driving fast enough. He flashed his brights at me, then finally chose the left lane that wasn’t going any faster.
I admit I was annoyed for a minute until I came upon a rusty old school bus with a big festive Christmas wreath on the grill. And it looked like the happy little kids were singing inside. Probably Christmas tunes. The driver was singing, too.
That made me smile.
And so did the warmth of the pizza when the young cook handed it to me as just as I realized I’d left the free coupon back on my desk.
“Oh, that’s ok, we hope you had a wonderful birthday, and have a very Merry Christmas!”
Walking back out in the cold I actually felt a little bad for old Scrooge in the BMW.
Maybe he needs a wreath on his grill, too.
Or a musical rendition of “We Need a Little Christmas”.
Well, at least a slice of warm sausage.
Some believe too much is said about gratitude in the month of November. For me, there’s always more that can be written. As we enter December, with the heavy focus on holiday shopping and occasional greed, it never hurts to step back and reflect.
I was reminded of that in the dark of the early morning yesterday as I walked to work. A shivering female beggar asked me for spare change.
And later, another did the same.
But this time, it was a hollow eyed man. His face wore a sad expression.
The man was carrying a simple sign with the message, “Laid off. Need money for diapers.”
His scribbled writing put my holidays into perspective.
Count your blessings.
I can’t ever do that too often.