November 10th, 2008
We were on our way into the big red store. Doing our part as consumers. About to begin our Christmas shopping. Even though Little Man hadn't napped and S.B. looked all business, I was looking forward to it. I love the holidays. Love 'em. I get excited. Look forward to spending time with family and friends. Look forward to Thanksgiving with its turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, pumpkin pie with whipped cream. And there's nothing better than following it up a month later with a good old fashioned dose of Christmas fever. Getting the tree. Decorating the house. Sharing presents and stories. Sitting around with people you care about and stuffing your piehole with whatever treat, snack, or food that's on hand. And though I'm not much into materialism, obtaining and accumulating things, I sure do like looking at stuff. Walking around instores, picking things off shelves, holding them in my hands and picturing people I know unwrapping them on Christmas Day.
“He makes me nervous when he doesn't nap,” I said.
S.B. patted her coat pocket.
“One sucker. One bag of fruit snacks.”
“Bribe treats. Good call,” I said.
As we walked, we could see that every other person in the Detroit Metro area had the same idea. The parking lot was packed. Cars whipped in and whipped out. People moved along like blind cows.
“Positivity,” I said. “Think positive, Stevens.”
It is hard sometimes. Moving around this place. The way people are so unaware of personal space, respect, common courtesey. It's frustrating at times. So much so, that it makes me want to pick up Little Man in my arms, have S.B. hop on my back, and both of them hold on as I charge like a bull through aisles.
“If you didn't want to go shopping...” S.B. started.
“No, no!” I said. “I'm looking forward to this. I love this time of year. And look at this!” I cheered, as I pointed to the icy flakes that had started to fall.
“Snow!” I said, “Snow!”
S.B. looked at me. Not as thrilled. Little Man gazed up at the heavy gray sky.
“Snow?” he said.
“Isn't it great? I love it! Love the snow! Come on, snow!”
I started to sing.
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...”
S.B.'s eyebrows raised.
“What?” I asked. “It's snowing! The first bactch of the year!”
“You act as if you've never seen snow before,” she said.
“Sheesh. Come on. It's great!”
She was still looking at me, and now she was biting her lip.
“So, what about that cart?” I asked, trying to change the subject, as we moved into the store.
S.B. leaned down to Little Man.
“Do you want to ride in the seat or in the basket part?”
“No cart!” he shouted, and he fell to his knees.
We stood in silence. Watching him. This was a delicate moment. A two-and-a-half year old on little sleep is like walking around with a pinless hand grenade glued to your backside. You just kinda move on, squinty-eyed, waiting for the thing to blow. Hoping that somehow you can survive.
S.B. reached into her pocket.
“Maybe if you're a good boy and you get into the cart, you'll get a surprise.”
He looked at me. I smiled. He looked at S.B., paid special attention to that hand moving around in her pocket.
“Prize?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” I said. “But you need to get into the cart.”
This was it. Do or die. I reached down, picked him up, waited for the explosion, but it did not come.
“Cart,” he said. “Me in cart. Prize.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. S.B. handed him a sucker. And soon, we were our happy little selves. Moving along through aisles. Manuevering round the cows. Avoiding the places where they stood. Stupidly. Yacking on cell phones. Carts blocking aisles. And it was good. We didn't let them bother us. Little Man crunched through the sucker and moved on to the fruit snacks. S.B. surveyed for the place for the best gift ideas. And I kept my mouth shut. About the snow. About the holidays. And I did not sing much more. Only a little “It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...” as we walked into Christmas Land. All big trees and twinkling lights. Santas, snowmen and ornaments.
“It's too early for all of this,” she said.
“Yes, it is.”
“When it's like this so early, it kind of ruins it.”
She is right. It is too early for Christmas. It's been too early for about a month. Christmas popped up long before Halloween. It's a shame how corporations push it so much. Do their best to sneak the bucks out of us. And I guess maybe it's too early for snow. To be spending more time indoors. To be bundling up. To be worried about keeping warm. Saving on energy bills. Racking up Christmas presents on the credit card. But what can we do?
It's the great Amercian Dream. And the holiday season is upon us. Whether we like it
We finished our shopping just in time. Got a few gifts, into a short checkout line, and out of the store only moments before Little Man's meltdown. Yes indeed, our little pinless grenade finally went BOOM!
But that's okay. We had another fine day. One that darkened into night. Had all of us into our pajamas early. Reading books. Watching movies. Playing around. And there's really not much more you can ask for. Sure, you can always have more stuff.
You can always want more. But when it comes down to the important things, sometimes all you have to do is look around.
See your wife under the soft light as she sits and reads in the livingroom.
Hear your son laugh as his little feet run around the floor, happy just being a kid.
And peek out the window at a great wintry sky that's ready to blanket the world.
(copyright © 2008 by K.J. Stevens)