I recently picked up a few items at the Bradfordville TARGET, and while at the checkout stand, a surly looking woman began inching her cart in front of me. “I’m with him,” she said, nodding to the empty handed fellow in line in front of me.
I yielded my basket of 4 items to her overflowing shopping cart, then proceeded to another, slightly longer line, where the patron just ahead of me seemed annoyed by the crowds. The poor young girl behind the counter had the most pathetic look on her face as she wished her customer a “Happy Holiday,” then turned to greet me with that same sad smile …
Unfortunately, the episode above seems pretty typical of this year’s holiday season. Maybe it’s the divisiveness of recent political events. Maybe it’s something else. In my case, I’ve had a miserable, lingering flu. I was shopping for a Christmas tree a few days earlier, and trying to decide on one – but I just couldn’t find anyone who seemed interested in helping me.
Later, as I continued shopping for presents, people looked so sullen and distracted. Common courtesies and holiday cheer seemed absent. “Nyquil must be a powerful depressant,” I thought. But really, things can’t be this bad all around.
Determined to get that tree, I went to another place on a different day. A fellow there greeted me – a little shyly at first – but it was a start. And then something clicked. I realized that no matter how lousy I felt, the only one who can really change the mood around me is ME. And I hadn’t forgotten how to do that. By the time I bought that tree, I had three people laughing and smiling about the simple act of buying a Christmas tree. I left there with high spirits and happy people who felt better for having met me.
So back to that TARGET incident in the beginning of our tale, which took place the day after we trimmed that wonderful tree. When that cashier turned to greet me with that sad smile and asked, “Did you find everything you needed?”
“I certainly did,” I replied boisterously, “and thank you for asking!” I beamed out my biggest smile as I made a brief but whimsical remark about my purchases – then wished her a heartfelt “Merry Christmas!”
On another shopping trip, as I neared the checkout line with my buggy full of gifts, a fellow with only two items in hand stopped as we approached together, expecting me to whirl ahead, and instead I smiled and made a broad gesture, inviting him to go first. He thanked me, twice, and the cashier wished us both a Merry Christmas.
There’s something about being cheerful during the holidays that lifts the spirits, above and beyond all else. It doesn’t take much to make a real life Dickens Christmas Carol come true.
I hope you’ll spread merriment and good cheer this holiday season, especially when others around you seem to have a heavy heart. I know that if you do, you’ll feel magnificent. Together, let’s spread tidings of Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.