I’ve heard, and I’m sure you have too, horror stories about enraged, crazy people behaving badly while Christmas shopping. They’ve been driven so batty by the crowds and the noise and the stress of creating the “perfect” holiday that they snap and scream at some poor sales clerk or a perfect stranger, possibly even threatening or perpetrating violence. I’ve heard those stories, but I have to say, I’ve never witnessed such a thing. Thankfully, because I think that would ruin my day.
No, my experiences have actually been the opposite during this most wonderful time of the year. I was out shopping for gifts the other day, and a lady near me who was pushing a cart and carrying a small child dropped a toy (well, the kid dropped it, but still). Now, the kid was not screaming or sleeping or anything, and she easily could have gotten the toy herself, and turned to do so. But I was right behind her, with nothing in my hands, so I bent to pick it up and hand it to her – at the same time that 2 other people did and a guy started saying, “Excuse me, miss” to get her attention and let her know she’d dropped something. Four people instantly went to help this woman, and it was NOT a crowded store. I really don’t think I see that kind of polite concern and helpfulness in July around here. But there it was. Then today, I was at the grocery store. I had unloaded my cart into my car and was pushing the cart back toward the cart return. I was parked pretty far from it, and a man who had just returned his cart saw me coming. He didn’t just walk away to his car – as I would have fully expected – he actually started walking toward me with a smile on his face and took my cart from me to walk it back (and yes, I’m sure he didn’t work at the store – I saw him in line inside the store and saw him get in his car and drive away). I’m also pretty sure that would not happen in July. A friend told me that last week, she was at a drive-through and the person ahead of her paid for her order before she got it. She didn’t know the person; they just did it, just because.
My experiences during the holidays are that most people are happier, kinder, more peaceful and more joyful. I certainly feel that way – despite the stress that can come with it, the things that are stressful also bring me joy. Buying gifts is an item to be checked off the list – but I love finding exactly the right thing and I just love giving people presents. Hauling out and decorating the tree is a bit of a pain – but looking at it every night makes me smile and feel happy. Packing clothes, dogs and gifts into the car and driving hither and yon can be a hassle – but I love spending time with our families and laughing and hugging each other. For me, all of the slightly annoying things about the holidays pale in comparison to the happiness I feel. Maybe I’m brainwashed that way, I don’t know. I don’t really care – being happy is a good feeling, no matter why. And my observations would indicate that most other people feel a similar joyfulness and benevolence this time of year.
So…why does that ever end? Why, in January, will everyone suddenly start ignoring common courtesy again?