This may come as a shock to you earthly elves who finished shopping and decorating weeks ago, and are licking the envelopes of your Valentines tonight, so brace yourselves. Some of us take longer to get in the “spirit” of this festive season. Every year I wait patiently for the Ghost of Christmas Present to visit me and open my eyes to the urgency of the situation and swell my grinchy heart up a bit. Today was the day, surprisingly early for me.
This morning had me speeding to the grocery for a quick trip before rushing off to work. My sons had depleted all resources on their two snow days, and I knew it was time to make a food run when I was feeding the dogs and wondered if heated Turkey Bacon Alpo would taste like people food. ( Keep that one to yourselves, thanks.) So, I wheeled in , steeling myself at the cast of morning characters I knew would be there. There’s the miserable cashier who always complains and the deli guy who is only semi-conscious – how many times do I have to say “a pound” or ,”one pound” only to receive a half pound? Jesus. Patience Tess. I said, as I bleeeched at the poinsettias, and grabbed a bunch of tulips instead. I thought I heard the angels shout “Christmas Denial Aisle 1!” on their heavenly intercom.
I drove my cart with stealthy precision and had reached my halfway point, lingering at the over the counter meds, contemplating an in-store overdose due to the Christmas music that was eating a dangerous hole in my brain. Suddenly, in aisle 10, the music changed and Aretha and George Michael , circa 1987, were belting out “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me”.
Somehow I made it through the heartache
I found my way out of the darkness, kept my faith
Kept my faith
Doing the 80’s side to side dance while contemplating canned soups, singing out loud with Aretha , I swear I heard the angels snickering at me…I was suddenly in a great mood in the God Damned grocery store and Christmas thoughts started flooding the dark hole in my brain. “I need a tree!” “We need to plan a menu!” “I need to buy some gifts!” “Better get some cards!”..no panic, just dancing and jiving with my cart. The angels weren’t done with me yet though..one more trick up their robes..Salvatore.
I arrived to my check out line a changed soul from my entry, and the miserable cashier started complaining as expected. I didn’t realize there was a person behind me, until I heard a thick Italian accent and a joyous ‘Buon Giorno!” and saw, I swear, for the first time in years, a genuine smile on the cashiers face. I turned and looked down into the very weathered Jimmy Durante-ish face of Salvatore. He smiled at me and his eyes spoke the truth of a man who still enjoys a sweet flirtation. His accent was so thick, but he took my hand and wished me a “Buon Natale” . I am still smiling at Salvatore, who reminded me of my own Italian grandfather, also named Salvatore.
I am all in for Christmas now…it will still be light on the music and the shopping, but I found my spirit today, with time to spare- I knew you’d be waitin’.