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It’s the little things

It’s 5 days before Christmas and yours truly is able to enjoy some time off before the big day. The last time I had time off at Christmas was because I had the stupid cut out (hysterectomy)…7 years ago. Sure, I had “time off” at the holidays when my daughter was a toddler, but those of us with children know that although the world may see it as time off, time with a toddler is a 24/7 job with no pay, with a boss who can’t find their shoe and cries because you gave them the wrong colored cup with their lunch…so “time off” is a relative term.

As I was running errands yesterday, I found myself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I almost succumbed to the Grinch and Scrooge mentality. Almost.  Hearing everyone around me sighing, complaining that the lines were taking too long, or honking at each other in the parking lot because they needed that parking space, it’s hard not to get sucked in to it all. As I was listening to the ladies complain about having people over for dinner as they were about to start a rumble over the biggest pot roast in the meat department, I looked over to see an elderly woman with her little basket with a few items in it and I thought to myself “she probably wishes her biggest problem was getting a big enough roast to feed her guests.”. …and that’s when I began to hum a Christmas carol, carry on with my shopping and tune out the sighs and complaints that passed me through the aisles.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no angel as my daughter can attest to. I cuss like a sailor if you are riding my tail end too close in traffic – when I have my kid in the car, her safety comes first so all bets are off. I have been known to use a certain finger when the snowplow comes by just as I have dug out their first visit’s mound of snow and I may have pretended not to speak English when a telemarketer just wouldn’t get “take me off your calling list”. There have been times throughout the days of Christmas past when I pouted even though I knew Santa saw me. There were times I started to Scrooge out or felt the Grinch was onto something complaining about the noise of Christmas, but I always remembered something that others seem to forget. At the end of both these Christmas stories, Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch gave over to the magic and the spirit of Christmas. If they could do it, you can too.

  • give to the Salvation army. If they are giving out candy canes for each donation, do what I do. Ask them to give it to the next child that walks by.

 

  • wave to Santa at the mall. Trust me, he is having a harder day than you.

 

  • don’t fight over a parking space. If the other person is gunning for it, let them have it. If you have to park further away, the fresh air will do you good.

 

  • If the grocery store is out of the size of turkey you need, your family and guests will survive. I promise, the sky will not turn black and the world will not swallow you whole.

 

  • when you make eye contact with someone, say hello or wish them a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays for those weary of offending.

 

  • give to every toy drive you can find. Any toy will do. The dollar store has coloring books and crayons for a dollar a piece. …psst…you spent more than that on the mocha frappe latte concoction you have in your hand.

 

  • give to your local food bank. If you can, a monetary donation is best – the food bank can stretch a dollar farther than you can imagine.

Take a moment to remember how snow once made you squeal with glee, how hours would pass as you wondered how Santa got to every house. Remember the smell of your Gramma’s perfume as she reached out to hug you, or the cackle of your Grampa’s laugh when he got your joke. Think back to the smiles on your parents faces on Christmas morning, thinking they were so happy Santa brought you your favorite toy, only to now know, the smile was for them and you, not Santa and you. When you take a moment to remember the magic and spirit of Christmas, you too will realize it’s not having the perfectly trimmed tree or the biggest turkey that you remember, it’s all the little things that mattered the most.

 

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Christmas Presence

As I sit here, snow is falling, Christmas carols are playing on the radio, lights are twinkling on the tree and my loved ones are safe and snuggled under warm blankets watching a movie. I am relishing the peace for it is the middle of December, which for any of us in the service industry/retail sector, we know is the beginning of the craziest, busiest time of the year. I have been working the Holiday/Christmas season for over 20 years, and have seen it all, from mothers beginning to cry because the antlers that their child needed for the Christmas pageant broke and are now out of stock to husbands panicking that the KMS gift pack their wife wanted is no longer available and he can’t go home without it. I have seen grown women lose it over the fact the newest red holiday shade of polish is sold out and have had a grown man throw a flat iron at me because I wouldn’t return it for him because he didn’t have a receipt, or the box for that matter. One commonality I have always found – too many people are concerned about their Christmas presents instead of their Christmas presence.

Last year I wrote of the pressure women (and gents…mostly the ladies) put on themselves over the holidays (see link below)

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2012/12/03/its-time-to-paint-your-own-picture/ .

I told a tale of letting go and easing up on yourself and your loved ones. This year, my tale will be one of presence. Too many of us are not present, in our own lives, in the lives of our loved ones, in our conversations, hell, even in our driving. We are getting so caught up in the idea of the perfect gift and the perfect dinner that we aren’t even able to keep up with who got who what gift and cannot even remember what that perfect dinner tasted like. Being me, I have compiled a little list, a how to for the holidays if you will.

– When you are out shopping with your child and they stop at the big tree in the mall exclaiming “WOW!!! It’s so pretty!” instead of yanking their little arm and scowling “yeah, yeah…lets go!” stand with them for a minute and agree with them. Take the few seconds, take a breath and make a memory.

– We all have those friends/family members that need a Santa picture. Here’s the deal, if your child doesn’t want to sit on Santa’s lap, don’t make them. Stand beside Santa holding your child, or forgo the picture all together. Your loved ones will survive a Christmas without a Santa photo. I know mine have. *Think about it…all year we scold “don’t talk to strangers” then force our kids to talk to  a stranger AND sit on his lap…no wonder there are so many tears.

– When you are shopping and a sales person asks if you need a hand, let us help you.  Let yourself be helped, it will ease the stress that you can’t find what you are looking for, and if by chance it is out of stock, we can let you know when the product is arriving and can call you when it arrives. …oh, for me, please do not say “already got two!” when we ask if you need a hand – trust me, we have heard it.

– Be kind to the cashier. She has been standing there for hours, has 5 more hours left of her shift and only gets a 30 minute break during an 8 hour shift, having to deal with people yelling at her for things she has no control over, like the debit being down, or a product being out of stock, or being yelled  at by a manager because she said “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”. – the latter happened to yours truly…I kept saying Merry Christmas.

– If your family doesn’t like turkey, you do not have to have it for Christmas dinner. It’s okay. The ghost of Christmas past, present and future will not haunt you. Make a meal that everyone enjoys, that you enjoy making. Trust me, I know of what I speak. I tried to do the “Christmas dinner with all the trimmings” and the whole day with every dish I prepared all I thought was who wasn’t going to like what and that I was disappointing Martha Stewart. This year I am making quesadilla’s. They are always a hit, everyone loves them and I spend less time in the kitchen and more time in the living room with my family.

– When you are getting your groceries, give to your local food bank. Many grocery store already have prepacked bags of food ready to give. Most packs cost $4.99 (the cost of your two morning coffees on your way to work)  and can give a family more than one meal. It’s a win/win, a mother will be able to make a meal for her child, and your child got to see their mother help her.

– Always give to the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army does more than you can imagine.

– Try not to complain so much about having to go to your Mother’s/Father’s house…again. Many have lost a parent, or both parents and wish that they had to sit through another conversation about how “easy we have it these days”.

This season, take it easy on yourself. Take it easy on your loved ones, for it is not their fault you are stressed that what you wanted to buy them is no longer available. Take a breath. Take a friend a coffee. Give to your local food bank. Make your hubby his favorite treat. Teach your child how to make cookies. Send a Christmas card or a text out of the blue. Smile as you pass people on the street or in the grocery aisle. Your Christmas presence will mean more to many than your Christmas presents will mean to one.

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Tales of Truth – The Christmas Chronicles

When my daughter was younger…(I say when she was younger – not little – little makes her sound like she was a Polly Pocket. Also, my family is vertically challenged so “little” has a wee bit of a sting), one of the Christmas songs she would sing (a lot) was “Santa Claus is Comin’ to town”. As you know, I manage a retail shop/Salon and it is the Christmas season. It seems many people have forgotten that “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.”.

– The phone rings. “Good After…” is all I got out. “Yeah Hi, where the hell is your store?” is what I hear. I give the shops location and am blessed with the response “Why couldn’t I find it in the phone book?!” and then they hung up….fa la la la la, la, la, la, la.

– We have a Christmas tree up in our Salon. It is a nice tree. At least once a day I am asked “Why do you have a tree up in the Salon” as Christmas music is playing in the background.

– A woman came in with jet black hair that she had colored at home with a box dye from the drug store. She had decided she wanted to go blonde, by herself, at home. I told her that wasn’t the best of ideas and told her the complications that may and will arise. She stared at me, flipped what was left of her hair, smacked her gum and said “It’s Christmas and this is what I want. I want to be blonde so let me buy my stuff and keep your opinions to yourself…ok?!?!”. …if she makes it to blonde it truly is a Christmas miracle.

– “You are a liar!” – what is said to me when I tell someone an item is on back order and I don’t know when it is arriving. – People, please, for the last time, I don’t work in the warehouse and am not in charge of  shipping and receiving…and seriously…I am not going to lie about a product being on back order…about your choice of hair color…maybe.

– “Can you give me the model numbers of all the flat irons you sell so I can look up their reviews on line?” – a call I get at least once a week. I sell 15 different models.

– “Will my husband like the smell of Joico shampoo more than Sebastian shampoo?”. When I answer that I don’t know I am always asked “why?”…this is why my jaw line is so firm…forcing back laughter all day keeps the jaw line nice and firm.

– A grown woman pouted and exclaimed “Come on!!! Life is so unfair! Nothing is going my way!”. Her cries of desperation were not because of a job loss or a sick loved one…her hairspray wasn’t available in a travel size and she was leaving for Europe for 3 weeks…the horror.

– “I bought this foot file and I don’t like the way it felt on my feet, I want to return it.”. The answer is no…and eewww.

– At our shop we always hold a monthly draw for a gift of free product. This month we are offering weekly draws along with our monthly draw. I am asked at least 10 times a day “What is the difference between the monthly draw and the weekly draw?”…Santa and the Baby Jesus have their work cut out for them this year.

– “Why do all the holiday packs have pictures of decorations on them?”…I really wish I was makin’ this up…I really do.

– “What does the Peppermint hand lotion smell like?”…oh how I wish I could say “Lemons”.

– “What do you mean I can’t return this comb? I only used it twice?!? I think you and your policy are stupid!!!” – after I explained I cannot re sell a USED comb

Today is Saturday on my side of the world. Saturdays and Christmas shoppers aren’t always the best of blends. Be kind out there. Be patient. I would tell you to think before you speak but I have to admit…some of the stuff we hear helps us make it through the day. Oh yes…although my first “flat iron being thrown at my head” incident was at Christmas time many years ago, it isn’t festive nor is it a tradition I wish to carry forth. So please, do not throw the flat iron.

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It’s time to paint your own picture

So the Christmas season is upon us. I think Mother Nature has been hitting the holiday cheer a little early this year because we are not experiencing the typical December weather we are used to in my neck of the woods. School mornings aren’t filled with “Put on your toque!” ( hat for the non-Canadians) followed with the all too familiar “BUT MOM!!! It’s gonna ruin my hair!”. Not an “appropriate” footwear argument to be heard or a pout or tantrum over ugly winter boots to be had. There may be peace and happiness in the  morning at households of school aged children everywhere, but it doesn’t seem to last. “It doesn’t feel like Christmas” is what I hear all day at the shop. After hearing it for the tenth time before 10 a.m. (we open at 9:30 a.m.), I found myself thinking about what I think Christmas is, and what I used to think Christmas was and how hard we as women are on ourselves and our image. (Hey, it’s Monday and I had 4 cups of coffee and have a teenage daughter – enough said).

When I was a child I firmly believed in Santa and the Baby Jesus. I thought they were related. I couldn’t wait to see Santa, that was until I got within 5 feet of the man and thought I was going to pee my pants because I swore he could read my mind and knew it was me who had cut my sister’s Barbie’s hair and had kicked many boys “where it counts” when they made fun of me…and he would tell the Baby Jesus. Fast forward to my twenties/early thirties. I was married when I was 22 and yes we are still together and we still love and like each other. I, as many women went through the “Norman Rockwell painting” phase. Oh come on…you know you did, hell, you may still be going through it – my condolences. The “Norman Rockwell painting” phase or NRP as I like to call it is when one puts so much pressure on one’s self to look perfect and act perfect that one does not enjoy anything and finds no beauty…anywhere. Not in their decorations, baking, family or their own reflection. I thankfully snapped out of that.  As I type, I have a tree up in my living room with lights on it and that’s about it. Why? My daughter wants to help decorate it but she has too much homework so we will do it later some time this week…and guess what?!? The moon didn’t turn black and the earth didn’t open up and swallow us whole.  Take that NRP. Now Christmas is whatever it may be. Last year it was beer and quesadillas. This year, I have no idea yet and it is glorious.

In the last week I have seen women fret and panic because the red polish they needed for an exact match to their holiday sweater set was on back order. I  heard a woman call herself an idiot because she forgot her list. I have heard women say they were too old for a new cut. I have seen a woman’s lip quiver over deciding which flat iron to get. All of them had themselves on such a tight schedule, everything had to be perfectly timed – a timer should be used for baking cookies – not for your daily life. They were all trying to make it perfect. Ladies, it is time to ease up on ourselves, it’s never gonna be perfect. Souffles will fall, cookies will burn, nail polish will chip (if you use OPI ChipSkip it won’t but that is another tale for another time).

There may not be snow, there may be stress in your life, the nail polish may be on back order but it can still feel like Christmas. Play a game with your child, laugh at their jokes even if it is the 100th time you have heard it. Hold your husband’s hand and when you ask how his day was, mean it. Smile as you pass people on the street. Give to a local charity. Donate to a toy drive. Sing a carol in your car. Text a friend to tell them they are wonderful. Talk to your parents – in their living room or at their grave – they will listen to you either way. Next thing you know…it may begin to feel like Christmas.