Why?

Please give me the benefit of the doubt that I don’t mean to be a humbug.  But as much as I try to minimize the running around, traveling, and etc., and simplify for my own sake, I run into other people who go into a frenzy for the holidays and bring a lot of stress upon themselves, and it makes me wonder…why?

This comes about because, while Valiant Husband was running other errands this morning, I ran some errands of my own.  One of these errands involved a trip to the arts and crafts store (practically around the corner) to purchase a frame for some pictures I had printed earlier in the year, as a gift for him.  I likely should have thought of it sooner, but since I was concerned about the pictures getting bent, I did not put them in the designated black bag in the closet where I keep his other gifts.  (That is our system and he knows about the bag and that he will spoil his own surprise if he tries to see what is in it.  I have no clue where he hides my gifts.  But it works out because I have a tendency to purchase a number of less expensive items for him throughout the year and he will purchase one or two smaller but more expensive items for me, like sparkly things that come in pretty little boxes with fancy bows on them.)  Anyway, I racked my brain and put the pictures in an alternative location where I thought they would be safer from getting bent, but Valiant Husband was not likely to have a reason to look for anything there.  Thank goodness the pictures crossed my mind within the last couple of days because I did almost forget about them.  This morning was the best opportunity to take care of the errand without Valiant Husband taking notice.  I do try to keep the last minute stuff to an absolute minimum or avoid it if at all possible, but it was my own lousy fault.  So I wasn’t complaining.

Hence the last minute excursion to the arts and crafts store.  It’s closeby.  I went early (their extended holiday hours were conveniently designated on the web site).  And I knew they would have what I needed.  So no problem.

Sure enough, the line at checkout wasn’t long when I entered the store.  I passed GO and went directly to the photo frames.  I found something I liked within just a couple of minutes.  I headed to the checkout, noticed a flaw in the frame, ran back to the frames to put it back and grab another one that did not have a flaw, and returned to the checkout.  There were only one or two customers ahead of me.  And I wasn’t in a huge rush.  So all was well for me.

The lady in front of me was elderly, slow, and seemed to be hard of hearing, because when one of the cashiers, who happened to be farthest from us, announced that she could help the next customer, the lady in front of me didn’t budge.  The cashier tried about three times to get the lady’s attention, and the lady still didn’t budge.  I finally had to speak almost into the lady’s ear and say, “Ma’am, she can take the next customer down there.”  I swear I really was trying to be patient.  Although I’ll admit it did cross my mind to jump the line.  The lady behind me was rolling her eyes and I think she had also been about to say something.

All was well as another cashier opened up momentarily and I handed over my frame and got my debit card out of my wallet to take care of my transaction.  The cashier was complaining to the cashier at the register next to her, that apparently one of the customers immediately before me had given the cashier trouble that the customer had wanted to use a coupon but for whatever reason the customer did not have the coupon available, and the customer expected that the cashier should have had the coupon and should have given the customer the discount.  Now, I worked as a cashier once, so I can empathize.  Customers will get upset that they think you should be able to do certain things but you cannot because of policies which are out of your control.  And being a cashier is a major drag around the holidays because you are so constantly busy ringing up customers who are all stressed out, and it stresses you out.  And given the time the store opened, the poor cashier likely had to be at work before 7:00 a.m. and likely still had last minute business of her own after her shift ended.

Valiant Husband and I ran into a somewhat similar situation when we went out to dinner last night and another couple sat down a few tables away and I overheard the gentleman rudely complaining to their waiter about the temperature and expecting that the waiter could just arbitrarily adjust the thermostat — which of course the waiter could not.

Anyway, it seemed that the other customer at the arts and crafts store and the other stress she was likely under, had put the cashier into a funk, and I even had to remind myself that I was just taking care of business since the cashier sure didn’t seem glad to be helping me.  But the cashier’s mood might have rubbed off on me if I hadn’t been so determined to remind myself it wasn’t MY problem so I could rise above it.

On the other hand, one of my best friends was driving to visit her family yesterday evening.  She has been stressed at work, and was disappointed that because of things going on at the office, she was not going to be able to take as much vacation as she had wanted.  When she finally left yesterday, she ran into traffic and nasty weather and was stuck on the road for four hours.  Not that she didn’t vent about it — but she didn’t cross the line into being bratty or rude about it.  And it seemed to encourage her some when I empathized and reminded her about the alcoholic beverages that would be waiting when she got there.

So I started thinking.  Why do we put ourselves through so much stress around the holidays?  Not everyone wants to simplify, of course.  Not everyone can, because there are always people in the same circle who are not willing to simplify and get in the way of those who would like to.  If we’re doing this out of love for people we care about, maybe we should do like I think my friend did, and remember the good things and the love before the stress brings us so far down, that we lose sight of the reason why we’re doing it all in the first place.

Now, time to wrap the frame and Valiant Husband’s other goodies, while he’s out of the house.  And have more wine, since I would usually be working.  Peace and happiness to all, whichever holiday you may celebrate.

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