Just when I thought the Christmas spirit was going to blow right by me this year, I smelled a little whiff of it.
It happened yesterday, when I went to our new neighborhood supermarket for the first time. As I walked across the parking lot (the most distant space in the whole lot would be considered a close parking place at Wal-Mart), I heard Christmas carols playing. I was immediately struck by the fact that the carols didn't annoy me, unlike the ones that began playing on the radio the day after Thanksgiving.
The second thing that perked me up was that all the people inside the store were smiling--especially the customers. Even me. I hadn't seen smiling grocery shoppers in a long, long time. By the time I left the store, I was humming carols right along with the piped in (piped out? to the parking lot?) music.
I have only one memory of Christmas before I started school. My father was home from the army the Christmas after I turned four, and there was a brief moment of childhood trauma on Christmas morning. One of mother's nylon stockings had been hung beside the front door while I slept. They'd filled it with fruit -- apples, oranges, bananas -- and hard Christmas candy. My father thought it would be a good joke to tell me it was my mother's leg hanging there. Mother tucked one leg under her skirt and agreed that it was true.
I could see the fruit, but there was a long moment of uncertainty before they laughed and eased my concern. It's interesting to me that I can't remember the joy of the Christmas presents, but that anxious moment has stayed with me so clearly.
That's my only bad memory of Christmas morning, and I consider myself very fortunate. All the ones since then have more than made up for it.
I'm beginning to think this one's gonna turn out pretty well, too.