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What Happened to Our Christmas Spirit?

I went shopping at the local department store to get the perfect gift for my hubby.

Truth be told, I give him the same thing every year, a stylish men’s cashmere scarf from Bloomingdales.

Every year about a month before Christmas, as the weather grows colder, he complains that his neck feels chilled. It’s pretty easy to shop for someone when you listen to what they say.

Either that or he owns stock in Bloomie’s and has me slowly funding his retirement one scarf at a time.

After picking the colored scarf that I’d like to see him wrapped in – a blue, teal, gray and black pattern – I made my way to the register.

There was a line, but it wasn’t terribly long. There were four people ahead of me, and that’s to be expected at this time of year. People are shopping for gifts to share with their loved ones.

I was standing on line a mere 20 seconds when shopper #1 in front of me huffed loudly, “What on earth is going on here? I don’t have time for this!”

Shopper #2 in front of her turned back and exclaimed, “This is truly pathetic…” and rolled her eyes.

Shopper #3 turned back and chimed in, “They need to open another register right now. This is a BIG problem and unacceptable!”

So I peeked around the angry shoppers in front of me to see what all the commotion was about.

A woman at the front of the line was explaining something to the clerk. I couldn’t hear what she was saying over the grumblings of the three women in front of me.

Another clerk came rushing over and apologetically said, “We have another register open, just over there.” And, he pointed to a register that was less than 10 feet away.

The three Scrooges huffed in unison and stamped over to the next register.

Now there were only two people on the line; me and the “BIG pathetic untimely and unacceptable problem” at the register.

She turned to me and said, “I don’t know what happened. I paid my bill. I have money in my account. But, my card was declined. It doesn’t make any sense.” And, she shook her head.

I said, “Awwwh, that’s too bad. Maybe they haven’t received your check yet. The Post office is always busy at this time of year. Or it could just be a glitch in the system. Don’t worry, you’ll get it figured out.”

The clerk handed back her second credit card and said, “This one went through. And, no worries, we will apply your shopping points.”

After Bloomies, I walked to my bank to take out some holiday cash to tip the mailman – yep, I put $20 in a card and leave it in the mailbox every year to appreciate my mail carrier (Thank you, Vernon!), and the UPS delivery guy who walks up 5 flights of stairs to bring my packages (Thank you, Mark!), and of course my dog walkers – FunnyPetsNYC, who take care of my furry family member as if she is one of their own (Thank you, Andre and Sylvia!).

At the bank, I was the only other person on the line beside the woman ahead of me at the teller window. She had a thick foreign accent (not sure from what country) and she was trying to figure out her account balance with the teller. It was hard to understand what she was saying and the teller was trying her best to explain it to her.

After three or four minutes, I heard from behind me, “Jesus Christ! What is the problem here?!”

I turned to see that a small line had formed behind me of just two other people.

There was an elderly woman leaning forward on her walker, and behind her was a younger woman who looked like she was in her mid-40’s.

It was the younger woman, not the elder struggling to stand upright on the walker, that was having a hard time waiting.

The elder slowly shook her head and said to me, “People just don’t seem to have any patience these days.”

I agreed with her, “I know it does seem that way.” I glanced at her walker and then at her, and asked, “Would you like to go ahead of me?”

She said, “No, thank you. But, that’s very kind of you.”

With that, the younger woman turned and stormed out of the bank.

It was just a minute or two longer before the problem resolved at the teller window. I stepped up and took care of my business, wished the bank teller a Merry Christmas, and turned to leave.

The elder woman smiled at me and said, “I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas.”

I said, “Merry Christmas to you, too.”

And, we looked at each other and smiled.

We were two human beings recognizing each other, and not only sharing an expression of the spirit of Christmas but embodying it in our hearts as well.

This Christmas dig down deep… not into your wallet, but into your heart.

  • Have compassion for your fellow human beings – we are all in this together.
  • Practice patience – we don’t know what someone else is going through.
  • Be kind – any act of kindness feeds the spirit of Christmas and nourishes the heart and soul of our humanity.

I’m wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas filled with peace, joy, and a whole lotta love… all wrapped up in a warm scarf.