All right, I admit it. I collect Christmases like I collect rocks and hubcaps and books and stories. I can remember every Christmas moment in my life – the Barbie that my mom still swears just appeared under the tree, a silent walk with my father and grandfather in the freezing Buffalo night to look at the lights, the sound of hooves and bells and a mysterious light in the sky, the little Church in Rome with a Christmas Mass in Italian and the long walk home in the dark…every moment magical and memorable. I love Christmas; this year I started my mental countdown in August, just as school was about to start.
By October, I was in full anticipation mode and as much as I love Thanksgiving, the moment the dishes were done, I was making ready for Christmas in my heart. I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait! is the mantra I sing. But why?
I think it’s all about the goodwill and kindness that seems to take center stage. The season of sharing, the caring for those less fortunate, the cheerful greetings of “Happy Holidays!” sung to perfect strangers as they pass.
Yesterday I was at the Mall, parked in the very last parking spot on the far edge of the lot. It was a long trek to Nordstrom for one last gift. Walking through the parking garage, humming Christmas carols, I was stopped by an elderly woman driving a big car, her passenger window down. “Excuse me!” she yelled, and I turned towards her. She met my gaze. “Merry Christmas!” she said in a booming voice. “Oh,Merry Christmas to you,” I replied as I kept walking. “I hope you find everything you need!” she called. I stopped. She was looking right at me, looking at me like she knew me. She seemed to stammer for a moment, then her face lit up with a huge smile. “And at a bargain price!” she said and drove off.
I know I put too much faith in things like this but really, who was she? Why did she stop me? And what is it that I’m supposed to find?