Sunday, November 23, 2008

Embracing the Season

Lisa has posted about her Thanksgiving dinner plans. I got hungry just reading it. Thank goodness there is garlic roasting the oven for my afternoon snack. Her post reminded me that the holidays are well and truly here and I am just beginning to feel it.

I used to work in retail. When you work in retail the holidays can never sneak up on you. They're larger than life,taking over everything from the buying to the merchandising to the music in the store cd player. Even so, Christmas was always my favorite time. Usually when I say this people peer at me, wondering if the experience didn't leave me several cards short of a full deck. Perhaps I am delusional, suffering from PTSD. And it is true, it is exhausting and at times maddening. But I know a few others who work in retail who will back me up, Christmas has advantages. For one thing, people are in a hurry. They've got a dozen gifts to buy, including that secret Santa gift for the new girl in the office, and they do not have time to dilly dally. They want to get a gift and get out. This means they will not torture the sales staff with endless questions about the product. They may not even really know what they're buying. There are those of us (you know who you are) who hunt far and wide for the perfect gift. We are in the minority. As countless yard sales and thrift stores can tell, most people just want to buy something. If it's big or jeweled or requires lots of batteries, all the better. All of this is a plus to the overworked sales person. They are only required to ring it up and bag it and maybe to wrap it but at least they don't have to really sell it.

The other advantage to the holidays is how quickly the days go. There is no time for boredom. You arrive in the morning and before you know it the day has passed, hustled along in a storm of tissue and bags and little gift cards. It is a little worrisome to find a solid week of your life gone without you really noticing but it is only once a year. For two solid months the sales person's constant enemy, ennui, is held at bay. Of course it will be back with a vengeance in January, the doldrums of retail. But for now, days pass quickly and there is no need to find odd little projects to fill the time between shoppers, no need to clean the tops of shelves and endlessly fold and refold the sweaters. For now there is some excitement, a feeling of optimism in the air as retail gallops into the black.

I know, predictions are dire. John Q Public is not going to be spending this year. Gifts will be curtailed, dinners shortened, vacation plans put off. And it will probably be like that, mostly. Retail will be down this year, stores will make deeper cuts in prices, kids will not get everything on their list in spite of managing to clean their rooms at least once this year. But it is still a season of optimism. You just can't help yourself when faced with gold ribbons and colored lights and carolers in the street. Not to mention bowls of wassail punch. And this year we have the Inauguration to look forward to. It is right that we should feel this way, right that the Yule should bring hope as the days begin to lengthen. It's what we need now, not doomsday predictions but acknowledgment that we are still here, that we have breath and life and dear friends and family. So try not to worry too much, let the best of the season fill you with hope and joy. (And wassail punch.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Still Slow

We're suffering from shock here in New York. We went from 60 degrees to 30 degrees pretty much overnight. And yet, people are still crawling along the sidewalks, stopping in bottlenecks, and generally getting in the way of those of us who want to get somewhere without our feet freezing to the sidewalk. I've been lobbying for a pedestrian passing lane for a while now. Everyone who wants to stroll, stop for no reason at all, and - most especially - talk on their cell phone can stay on the right. The rest of us will be quite happy to leave them in their daze as we go by at a civilized pace. I've never had a lot of patience. (No, it's true, I can accept it.) But I usually manage to present a patient front. Except when walking somewhere. I simply cannot abide people who wander about, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, most notably me, as I try to get past them while they weave about on the sidewalk. There is a special circle in Hell for such people, right below those who stand on the down escalator and above those who after reaching the cash register run back to grab some item (or 3) that they forgot.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We Did It

Okay, who else wants to run down the street yelling WOO HOO!?
Some people in my neighborhood did just that last night.
After the 2000 election I stopped watching the results come in. I watch something frivolous instead. This time I was about to turn off the TV and go to bed when I decided just to take a peek. It was 11:04pm and they were announcing that Barack Obama had won. But even if I had not changed the channel I would have known, for a moment later fireworks went off on the street and people were shouting and laughing. Here in Manhattan 85% of us voted for Obama so I fully expect to see lots of people smiling all day, patting each other on the back and feeling a sense of optimism for the first time in a long time. I know the road ahead is rough but for the moment I choose to embrace this heady feeling of joy and hope.

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness, may all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, may all beings never be parted from freedom's true joy, may all beings live in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.-Buddhist prayer

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Perfect Fall

The last two days have been simply gorgeous, the kind of days that make you so glad just to be alive. Cool crisp air, clear skies, and golden sunlight. Enjoy.