or so many, the winter holidays are a headache. A depressing, insanely busy balancing act, where we realize how we either, A) hate our families, B) are cripplingly lonely, and/or C) are completely broke and potentially homeless, come January first, when our rent is due. The holidays make you bitter, tense, disheartened and fat (another Christmas cookie to ease the pain?).
But for others, as I’ve experienced lately, the holidays are about doing the right thing. They’re about helping out or giving unexpectedly.
Last week I ordered a Christmas gift online and had it shipped to my apartment. Later, when I tracked the order, the status read "delivered." But there was one massive problem: it was not delivered! I had received no packages, had not signed any dotted lines. Where was this gift? I put up a sign on my apartment building’s door, asking if anyone had seen it. It got ripped down. I put up another sign, demanding the package be returned to me. That one got ripped down too. I finally contacted the seller of the item I purchased. They told me that the package did not require a signature, so they were not responsible for it after it had been shipped out. They also told me they were out of the item that I purchased so they couldn’t send me another. But then they said how very sorry they were and gave me a full refund. I didn’t get completely screwed! So my net gain was technically zero, but my Christmas spirit started soaring.
Someone cared! And they did the right thing! Imagine the Grinch at the end of the movie when his heart triples in size. That was me, feeling all gooey inside.
Then last week, after returning from Target for office grab-bag gifts (white elephant gifts, anyone?), I realized I didn’t have my leather-bound journal any more. It was nowhere to be found. That journal is my life. I am list maker, people. I make a list for everything. I also journal in it (in a very cool, adult way, okay?), write down recipes, addresses, and other random and important information that gets organized every night before I go to bed.
After a freak out comparable to George Bailey’s in It’s a Wonderful Life, I got a phone call (my number was listed on the inside cover) from Jillian and Zoe, two middle schoolers who found the notebook and asked how they could return it to me (with the help of Zoe’s mom, of course). Sanity would return to my life once again! All my lists, the last-minute Christmas gifts, the nightly to-do, the grocery list, the list of potential Christmas Eve jokes for the family, they weren’t gone forever! Someone cared! And they did the right thing! Imagine the Grinch at the end of the movie when his heart triples in size. That was me, feeling all gooey inside.
And my heart swelled again today. After weeks of riding the train to work and seeing an adorable family in my train car, we recently struck up conversation during our commute. My chats with the daughter—who is five years old and the most talkative, friendly kindergartener I have ever met—always end up being the highlight of my day (“Bonjour! I am in a Christmas dance. Want to see my ballet shoes?”). This morning, they surprised me with a homemade pastry that was made in a batch for a Christmas party later in the day. It was delicious, and completely unexpected. We said “au revoir” as they got off at their stop, and I gazed down at the plastic-baggied pastry. I was smiling like a loon. It took all kinds of self-control not to shout “GOOD TIDINGS TO ALL!” as I exited the train myself.
So tonight, I think I’ll make some eggnog, heavy on the Jameson, put on Bing Crosby’s Christmas album, and make one more sign about my lost package. Maybe third time’s the charm.