Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy?

It’s official! The holidays are here! 

When Eric and I do our grocery shopping, we go to a market we affectionately call “Freddy’s”; a Kroger brand store. This store is huge. It not only sells produce, but has home furnishings, electronics, and apparel. 

For major feed holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, we plan as if we’re going on an all day excursion. We make sure that we’re both caffeinated, have food in our bellies to prevent either one of us from getting hangry, and gas in the tank. Our market provides groceries not only to local residents in North Portland, but also residents in neighboring Vancouver, Washington who take advantage of Oregon’s sales tax free status. This means we sometimes must drive around the market several times to get a parking spot. Normally we’d walk to the store but when we are doing large scale entertaining for dinner, we drive so we can minimize the stress on our fingers and save our backs.  

In the store, the game is on. Eric and I double-check to make sure one of us has grabbed the grocery list! It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve arrived at the store thinking that the other remembered to bring the list and are forced to shop from our work-worn memories. We’ve also had this with our wallets too which meant that one of us (me) has to quickly walk home to retrieve them and return without having to abandon our cart. Not even in the store for a minute, we have our first challenge to overcome in the outer lobby; finding a shopping cart. We split up to check the other entrance for a cart to begin the Adventures in Holiday Shopping; 2019 edition! 

After methodically checking things off the list, it’s time for check out! Both self- checkout sections are packed with lines trailing into the produce aisles. The regular lines aren’t any better either. Some people lose all common sense during the “holi-craze” and block the path with their cart. Then we have to do a dance to jockey for a path to get by. Eric and I have this system when we shop together and head to checkout, whomever isn’t pushing the cart will walk ahead and check for a faster moving check out line. Usually this is the line with the most experienced checker. This time it doesn’t matter, all lines are jacked. We have no choice but to be patient and wait it out. Lucky for me I have Words with Friends on my phone to help pass the time. After 30 minutes, we inch our way forward but now there is a problem. We’re three people back, and the elderly person at the checkout is having technical difficulties. I’m not sure exactly what’s causing the issue but there is a collective groan from everyone behind them. Finally, the person completes their transaction and soon it’s our turn! By the time we returned to the car, more than an hour passed and it’s dark (the downside to Daylight Savings Time).

With Thanksgiving now a recent memory, the Christmas season is in full swing complete with holiday shows and carols. The ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday splash on the screen like rapid fire strobes in a dance club; buy your loved one a car (usually a Cis heterosexual couple), your family will appreciate you year-round with an 85” inch television, or give her diamonds to really express how you feel this year. The commercials practically say we’re all losers if we don’t comply. Thank goodness, Eric is happy with his wheels, our 52” inch television, and isn’t fond of jewelry. I’ll have to find another way of showing my affections! Maybe I can bundle up my love, respect, and adoration? I understand. It’s hard not to get swept up into the madness of the season. When it comes to purchasing gifts, neither Eric or I have a want for anything that falls into the realm of materialism. If it’s something we need, we’ll simply buy it. The element of surprise and shiny wrapping paper (which isn’t recyclable btw) to conceal the gift isn’t necessary. 

If this is the most wonderful time of the year, as a certain holiday song would have us believe, why do I want to scream and it’s only the first week of December? For those of us who celebrate Christmas, and for those of us who must endure it, this jingly holiday season feels like it started back in September. Some well-known chain hardware store, actually had their artificial trees in place before Halloween. Yes, retailers are trying to tap into the green money stream sooner. I would also encourage sharing some of that holiday shopping love by supporting local small businesses too!

The winter holiday now has become less about the significance of its origins and more about the driver and fiscal savior to the economy. I love a good sale too, it’s just that I wish it could happen without the hype and drama. I think it’s tragically entertaining that some people will line up hours or even days in advance just to save money on the latest digital trend of the moment. The “doorbuster” deals often live up (or down) to the name when shopping frenzies begin at “o” dark-thirty. This often results in crowds of sleep deprived people pushing and shoving each other to quickly snap up the merchandise. Hopefully this year’s gift grab will be less violent. Last year at the Riverchase Galleria shopping mall in Alabama there was a shooting. Former US Army serviceman Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was mistaken as the shooter by police was killed. Bradford, who was carrying a licensed firearm was also African American.

So before anyone calls me out for being a “holiday hum-bugger” or Scrooge, this time of year does force me, and hopefully others, to slow down and appreciate what we have, rather than focus on what we don’t. I’m grateful for my partner, family, and the diverse friendships I have. Eric and I attended a Friendsgiving this year (Thanksgiving celebration with friends) and some of the attendees, we hadn’t seen in a while. In addition to the delicious dishes that were shared, what I enjoyed most was celebrating our time together. Christmas brings me the same joy. Instead of turkey, we serve prime rib as the main course purchased from our local butcher Gartner’s Country Meat Market. This savory dish has become a tradition with Eric and his visiting mother Joan from Lemmon, SD, during her annual Christmas visits. Last year after pulling a service number, they waited over an hour to purchase a 17-pound marbled beauty, due to the volume of eager carnivores waiting.

It’s hard to escape all of the influences and sparkly things pulling at us this time of the year. But what really keeps me sane, is focusing on the wonderful new experiences and special memories we can create. This is what makes me smile and gives me peace so I can feel the real joy in the world, things that can’t be boxed or bowed.

However you choose to celebrate, have a happy and peaceful holiday!

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