The Christmas Spirit

A window with the words christmas spirit written in front of it.

👀 Our local thrift store had its “Christmas Open House†on Friday evening at 6:00pm a couple of weeks ago.  Many of our 12,000 residents look forward to that event.  We arrived one hour before the doors opened and there were, perhaps, 15 people already in line.  By the time the doors finally allowed entry, there we at least 75 people behind us.  Keep in mind that all of their merchandise has been donated by someone who used it before, potentially for many years. Nevertheless, year after year several hundred people show up to buy Christmas toys, decorations, and gifts. My wife and I devised a plan that had her going to the right after we entered and myself to the left.  We were to put into our basket anything we thought we might want, since it could always be returned to the shelf later if we decided we (my wife) didn’t want it.  The items were priced anywhere from $2 to $30 and, for the latter, you were getting a pretty good item for your money.  We left an hour and a half later and the bill came to $60.  Yeah, we got some good Christmas stuff, i.e., a bear that sings “Jingle Bells†and waves lighted batons when you push his button 😊.  but the most pleasure was derived from being around a lot of enthusiastic people whose eyes were wide, and their spirit filled with the expectation of finding that perfect gift, or decoration, at a ridiculously low price.  In addition, they had a snack table filled with delicious cookies, candies, etc., plus coffee and bottled water to wash it down.  I think the reason I enjoy it so much is that it gives me the opportunity to see the“Christmas Spirit†at least a month before it descends upon us like a cloak, and make us feel warm and comfortable deep down inside.  When I was a young boy in the coal mining camps of Virginia, that cloak always descended in early December.  When my two children were young, the cloak returned again every December.  Now? Not so much, except when we head off to the thrift store Christmas sale! I surely hope that you have something like that to tug you into the Christmas season, whether you are a Christian or not. I think I am never so peaceful as when the cloak arrives and peace is the angel resting on my shoulder.

👀 My blood pressure has been giving me “fits†lately.  Back in May when my son told me that he had pancreatic cancer, my pressure shot up to“Hypertension Stage2: 140+/ 90+â€.  I normally take my pressure readings on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and each month I key the data into the software that I have on my PC.  Then in November when I go for my annual physical, I give the report to my doctor. After my son passed away in June, I expected my readings to start heading towards “normal†as I worked my way thru grieving over his death.  That happened when other family members passed away, and I expected it to happen this time also.  But, alas, here I am six months later and my readings are still disastrous.  I know my body is saying there is a lot of grief still within me and there is still along way to go to get over his absence in my life.  I am expecting my doctor to put me on medication, and I am willing to do that if he deems it so.  I have been very proud that at my age I do not take any prescription medication, but I fully expect that to change soon. 

“I do not know why it is, but everything penetrates more deeply within me, and no longer stops at the place, where until now, it always used to finishâ€.  …Rainer Maria Rilke  

👀 My wife and I normally walk the Kiln Creek Trail on Fridays and then she does her grocery shopping in then nearby Kroger grocery store while I head to the Starbucks coffee shop in that very place.  Well, on this particular Friday, I’m standing in line to order my steaming hot cup of coffee, slowly working my way to the front of the line, when I noticed there was only one barista (Emme) and she was working mighty hard. She appeared to be of Asian heritage and in her mid-thirties, and she was working as quickly as humanly possible, trying to please the customers waiting on their order.  I worked for 50 years, and I can tell you that I never worked as hard as that woman at that particular time.  I finally arrived at the front of the line and she came over to take my order when the woman she had just waited on came back and informed her that what she had in her hand was not what she ordered.  The barista looked as though someone had poured too much cinnamon on her oatmeal.  But she was pleasant to the lady and courteously said, “No problem, I’ll get you what you wanted’.  She turned to me and said that she would return soon.  I encouraged her to take her time, that I was not in a hurry, but off she went, twisting and turning like a tornado.  Within a few minutes she was back, asked about my order again (Grande, black) and quickly started making it.  She returned with my dangerously hot cup of “Pike’s Placeâ€, apologized for the delay, and placed it on the counter in front of me.  I always pay for my Starbucks coffee with an app on my phone, so I pulled it up, turned the phone towards her so she could scan the barcode, and remarked that Starbucks surely doesn’t pay her enough and to please add a $5 tip to my order ($2).  She smiled appreciatively and informed me that she couldn’t do that (add a tip on the phone app).  Unfortunately, I seldom carry my wallet and was unable to reward her hard work with a little extra pocket change.  I’m gonna try to remember to take her tip on my next visit.  It is a great joy to do a good job yourself, but it is also pretty great to watch someone else do a great job.  Emme did a great job that day!

John Wayne said, “”Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes to us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”  I’m learning that a great many of our young people are hard workers.

 ðŸ‘€ A few weeks ago we took a week long trip to North Carolina and Tennessee to visit family members that we don’t get to see all that often.  I have three great-grandchildren by my oldest granddaughter Robin & husband David.  I try to find ways to give my two great-granddaughters (12 & 14 years old) some money they can use at school (their brother is only 4).  I refrain from giving them money outright by giving them the opportunity to earn it.  I said to the 12-year-old 7thgrader, “Taylor, tell me the names of 15 US Presidents and I’ll give you $20â€.  Surprisingly, she wrote down the names of twelve very quickly.  Struggling for the final three, her dad & I gave a few hints and she won the money.  Her older sister, Randi, was showing me her poker card magic tricks, which she performs at school to impress her friends.  She promised to tell me the identity of the single card I had in my hand, but I noticed that she made a counting mistake when placing the cards in different piles on the kitchen table, and I suspected that mistake would make her calculations incorrect. “Grandio, are you ready for me to identify the card in your hand?† “Yesâ€, says I, “and I will give you $20 if you are correct!† A big smile spread rapidly across her face as she spoke confidently of her guess.  As I slowly turned the card around for her to see, a look of bewilderment took up residency in her eyes.  She had done this trick many times before and had never failed to reveal the correct identity of the card.  I could see the wheels turning as she tried desperately to identify what had gone wrong. Seeing her confusion, I pegged the source of the problem, she tried it again and was successful.  I was happy that she succeeded and willingly gave her the reward I had promised. She also did several other card tricks which we haven’t quite figured out yet.  I have no idea what they will use the money for, I hope it is on a school trip of some kind.  Taylor went to the State Science Fair in Nashville the week after we left and finished 4th for all 7thGraders in the state.  Oh, how we brag about those we love. 

Nikki Giovanni said, “Some say we are responsible for those we love.  Others know we are responsible for those who love us.† Now that’s a pony I can ride!

  I hope that wherever you are on this wonderful planet you are enjoying the ride. May those that love you show up at your door for a long visit during this wonderful month of celebration.  I am anxious to greet the New Year and begin my 78th trip around the Sun.