Serendipity
December 25, 2007

First, I'll be honest. I had one of those utterly, I-am-content-with-the-world days that simply don't occur often enough for most of us. I was relaxed, happy ... shoot, I even braved the mall for some last-minute serendipitous shopping. (And yeah, I'm writing this at 4 a.m. on the 25th ... but I still haven't been to sleep yet, so "today" is still the 24th to me)

I know most people avoid leaving their homes as much as humanly possible on the 24th of December. Traffic is horrible. Most people are tense and tired and cranky and feeling sooooo pressured.

And yet, it's one of my favourite days to go out. Maybe it's that oppositional thing that my therapist called me on. Dunno, don't care. I go out, and I feel no pressure. Check this store and that store ... is there something I didn't know about that might just make someone's Christmas that much better?

And ... I like to go and make sure I smile at all the retail workers. I can recalled Christmases whilst I was in college ... working retail ... and trust me, it can be hard to even believe in God at all during the "joyous" Christmas season in retail. I'm pleasant ... I'm smiling ... I'm not rushed, but I'm not moving at OAP speed, either.

In fact ... today I went to the one store people pray to every god imaginable that they don't have to visit on the 24th. I went to a toy store. I discovered some LEGO Indiana Jones sets that I don't think are supposed to be out until January. At least every website I saw after I got back home said January. And considering that this store was selling them for more than the suggested retail price, I'm pretty sure a manager thought these would fill out their empty shelves and sell well. (The $50 kit was selling for $70 ...)

I wandered around, looking for a Humvee toy for my other half. She works for AM General, building the H1 Humvee, and I know she showed interest in one when we were there months ago. They didn't have those anymore, but they did have some old skool G.I. Joe figures that I knew she liked. Snagged 'em. Serendipitous shopping. Neither one of us knew these existed, but her face sure lit up at seeing Scarlett and Lady Jaye.

And when I was through poking around, I went to check out. Short line. Staff didn't look too terribly stressed and frenzied. I noticed there was some stuff on the counter, but I thought they belonged to the woman checking out. Just as I'm about to put my stuff on the counter, a woman rushes up with a toy or two in hand. She's freaking. She's apologetic. "I just need to add these couple of things," she blurted out, terrified I would tell her to head to the end of the line (which, actually, ended with me). The few things on the counter already were hers.

I smiled and told her not to worry about it. She apologized, tried to explain. She was speaking so fast, she was tripping over her words. I smiled again and told her, "Look, it's fine. I'm not on a schedule."

I thought she was going to fall over. "You're NOT???"

I just smiled. "No, really. It's okay, go ahead."

She couldn't stop thanking me. And I suppose this is why I like going shopping on Christmas Eve. Random Acts of Kindness ... spreading a little peace around.

And then, tonight at church ... lol

I was more than a little bouncy myself. It had been a good day and a great evening. I spent some time really reflecting how I'd been in such a bad mental space last year. This year, I have no job and I'm getting nervous about the severance running out before I find one ... but still, things are better this year.

Across our round sanctuary sat ... mmm, let's call him Thomas ... so Thomas sat across the sanctuary from me. He'd been on the computer, checking NORAD's Santa site to see where Santa was now every couple of minutes before church started. Running all over the place. All that pent-up Christmas energy. And our 11 o'clock service is a very meditative, calm, peaceful time. How was he going to survive it?

And as soon as I thought that, he looked up at me. I gave him a smile ... not my usual Hey-why-don't-you-and-I-get-in-trouble grin ... but a nice smile. He gave me the sweetest, most genuine smile in return.

Instantly, I remembered a Christmas when I was a few years older than Thomas. Our family tradition was to open our gifts Christmas Eve after we'd been to mass. (Early mass ... my mom didn't have the stamina to stay up much past the evening news.) This one year, Mom wanted me to open one present early. She had a present picked out for me and one for my sister ....

It was the mid-80s and it was a Timex digital watch. It looked so adult, with its black leather band and the gold watch itself. The glass was a bubble and in the center was a small digital bit of circuitry. There was a button to push for light. It wasn't something I'd asked for, I don't think. Wasn't something I'd thought about, really. And it was sooooo adult looking. I was enthralled with it.

I can remember sitting in church, much like Thomas this year. Trying to listen, trying not to bounce. Staring at my watch in awe. In fact, and I'm sure this is simply my "old" person's memory banks using Adobe Premiere and AfterEffects with the images stored in my head, but I can see that dreamy golden glow around the whole image of me admiring my watch in church.

And as I type this, speaking of serendipity ... Green Day's "Time of Your Life" just came on. While the song might have felt like a semi-bitter break up song to its lyricist, the wistful and dreamy quality of the music on this song coupled with the lyrics (which don't necessarily scream break-up) speaks to all of this for me.

Another turning point;
a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist;
directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test
and don't ask why.
It's not a question
but a lesson learned in time.
It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
So take the photographs
and still frames in your mind.
Hang it on a shelf
In good health and good time.
Tattoos of memories
and dead skin on trial.
For what it's worth,
it was worth all the while.
It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

Serendipity indeed. Funny how "way leads on to way" ... the paths our memories and our lives weave.

Posted by Red Monkey at December 25, 2007 3:55 AM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

 

A u d e e said:

(singing..): I hope you have the time of your life..

December 25, 2007 6:01 AM

 

newnorth said:

dang, I'm singing the song now too :p
...it's even more fun to drive around on Christmas day shocked that all the stores are closed... we do it for almost every holiday :)

December 25, 2007 11:44 PM

 

Techfun said:

Great story... umm stories. :)

I'm one of those who does not venture out on Christmas Eve. As a kid, I always associated Christmas with tiptoeing around the house trying to keep my head down and not make noise because I wanted to avoid the attentions of my drunken and capricious stepfather who could decide at any moment that Christmas was canceled.

I try to be as kind as you were to that woman at the toy store check out all year long. It amazes me how rushed people are - and not just during the holidays.

I love that Green Day song as well. I love most Green Day songs actually.

December 26, 2007 2:15 PM

 

Sydney said:

I love warm 'n' fuzzy memories like those. Simpler times - when a watch could plant a perma-smile on your face. Then again, I'm still sort of in that mindset, loving things "just because". Now I have 2 good songs stuck in my head*.

I also like that you're able to walk through the madness that is last-minute shopping with a cool and collected mind. Seems like it would take a lot of inner strength and possibly physical strength if any sleep-deprived shoppers got a little rowdy (parents shopping for toys scare me - remember the tickle me elmo fights in the '90s?).

*"crawl back into bed to dream of a time
when your heart was open wide
and you love things just because"
- lyrics from Rilo Kiley's
"A Better Son/Daughter"

December 26, 2007 5:31 PM

 

Xers said:

I love moments like that. (Both the trips down memory lane and random acts of kindness in the midst of chaos; all of those moments of serendipity--that is if such moments are accidental.)

At the end of my Christmas day, I was driving home in the rain. It was 50 degrees. Then I noticed a hitchhiker waddling through the curtains of wind and rain.

the several other cars just passed him by...so, I did a U-turn; picked 'em up and gave him a ride. [Now, I'm not say'n everyone needs to go picking up hitchhikers--there are dangers out there; and they're real]. But man....on Christmas day I'd like to think that at least 1 out 'o 10 (other than myself) would be kind enough to stop.

December 29, 2007 8:36 PM
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