I still like Christmas, in spite of Fox News’ relentless and ignoble efforts to destroy it.
[Wil Wheaton has written an excellent essay about the effects of Fox News and the conservative radio on all of us. He links to Salon where the entire essay can be read with a day pass.]
Yesterday, the Viscountess and I went to Costco to shop for our annual Christmas party. This years’ was last night. We had all 6 of our children, the boyfriends of the two oldest, and my brother and sister-in-law.
We had a great time. Costco was crowded, but people (for the most part) seemed in good spirits. The checkout line was as long as I’d ever seen it, but it went lightening fast. The checker is a very nice lady in her late 30’s maybe. Southern accent. We’d had her before. The last time we were there, at the end of the transaction I couldn’t find my card. She said, “I gave it to you.” I said, “I can’t seem to find it.” She said, (matter-of-factly, with an absence of annoyance or sarcasm) “Sir, I’m certain that I gave it to you, please look again” and sure enough it was tucked behind another credit card in my wallet. It struck me that she was so nice about it. So many people who work with the public become callous and jaded, and her treatment of me and my mistake was refreshing.
As we were checking out, I said to her, “We both agree you are the best checker here. This line was so long and yet it flew. We’ve had you before and you do a great job.” I went on to tell her the story about the misplaced credit card. She said, “Sir, you made my day. That is all I want for Christmas, is to be appreciated.” Then she said, “You know, I’ve been saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to people, and no one has been offended or anything.” I said, “Yeah, if people say 'Merry Christmas,' 'Happy Holidays,' 'Season’s Greetings,' 'Happy Hanukah,' or whatever they mean well, so why would anyone be offended? The only person who seems to have a problem is Bill O’Reilly.” She laughed and said, “Yeah, he’s a trip, isn’t he?” and we all smiled. I said, “Merry Christmas and Happy New” year and she said “Same to you” and we left.
After we loaded up the Vibe, (we LOVE that car - my wife’s Regal’s transmission self-destructed at 40k and the car had given us trouble in the past so she traded it for an ’05 vibe) I had to return to the cart, and I found myself riding it across the parking lot, like I used to do when I was a kid. It felt so good.
I don’t look or act my age. Lots of people think that about themselves, but it is true with me. Full head of hair. Some sparse flecks of gray. Most of my friends at work are 10 to 15 years younger than I am. I still get into trouble sometimes for laughing too loud.
Doesn’t change that fact that I am 48. Not old, oh no, but, beyond that feeling that “unless I scratch the 8 ball, I got at least another 40 years.” Nope, can’t really say that at this point. They way I said it the other day was, “if I get 80 years, I’m in the middle of my 3rd quarter.” Still, I rode that cart like I was 12. Wind blowing back my hair, feeling the vibration from the wheels on the pavement and a big grin on my face. “This is still fun” I thought as I rode the cart to the corral. I walked back to the car with a little skip in my step.
Later on in the day, I picked up my brother and we went to my favorite wine shop and chatted with the “wine guy” who knows way more about wine than anyone I have ever met. He recommended and we bought a bottle of Bordeaux and a Red Zinfandel. Both were bargains. The Bordeaux was $16.99 and the Red Zin was only $8.99, but when “Robert” tells me to buy something I know I won’t be sorry.
The party started about 6:30. I put some Christmas discs on the changer, Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs,” a generic Christmas CD that we bought some years ago at a supermarket, and two odd things that I got over the years. One is called, “Xmas - The Beatmas” and the other is “A Fab Four Christmas.” Both bands make their livings playing Beatles music. “The Beatmas” are actually The Rubber Band. Both CD’s have the same theme: they rearrange classic Beatle songs and sing Christmas carols to the music.
We had lots of food. A spiral-sliced ham, 7 layer dip and tortilla chips, tiny hot dogs wrapped in bacon, bruschetta, pasta shells in marinara sauce, cheese and crackers, stuffed cabbage, and lots of sweets.
After dinner, we sat around in a big circle in the living room and just talked. We exchanged gifts with my brother and sister-in-law and the two boyfriends, because they won’t be here on Christmas morning. The adults drank the two bottles of wine, and Robert was right, they were bargains. The Bordeaux drank like a $40 bottle of wine, and the Zin drank like a $20 bottle.
The party was over; the boyfriends and my brother were gone. Those of us that were still awake watched the Dick Cheney / George C. Scott version “A Christmas Carol.” It was great. Made me feel optimistic and happy all over again.
It doesn’t have to be bad. We can’t let a bunch of vocal selfish self-righteous people destroy all that is good about our lives. I love the holidays, and for today, I feel optimistic.
I believe we have turned the corner. It will take time, but things will get better. Remember, everything we do matters. If we choose to do the right thing in every situation, in spite of self-interest, in spite of being surrounded by others who don’t seem to, we do make a difference.
I will be away until New Year’s Eve, with limited access to the internet. Here is wishing all of you Happy Holidays. Life is short – enjoy the good times when you are lucky enough to have them.