It's December. Most people are chatting about putting up their Christmas trees and getting excited about seeing friends who'll arrive home for festive catch-ups. I'm in no way religious and you know what I love more than endless turkey and wine? A twinkly tree and a homemade Nativity scene. It makes me think Santa will arrive and everyone will be nice. Even if I have to scare them into being angels, IT'LL HAPPEN.
My mother was Party Queen - The 'Bubbly Brunch' was a firm favourite and our house on Christmas day was a revolving door of people coming to eat, drink & be merry. We've tried to continue that tradition, though it took me 20 years to figure out how to cook everything at once, and my father and I have been known to freak out over burned sprouts and forgotten gravy, but we make it through.
Getting everything organised is tough work. Anyone who talks about getting to go home to do nothing but eat and watch movies makes me jealous, as I know how tired we Christmas Fairies feel after all the gift choosing, and cooking of the meals, and the cleaning and the wrapping and the small talk. For me it's worth it, plus that's what wine is for. But it's still an annual shock to see people losing their shit in shops with other humans who are just trying to get through their day too.
I get it, Shopping is a bloody nightmare! I've planned a wedding - I know about bad customer service. (You haven't experienced anything like it till you try to pander to dress shop owners). Christmas time is stressful and weird and full of crap you don't need. Too many people wearing too warm coats wondering how the hell they'll pay for this come January. Save your temper and don't linger. If your frustration gets the better of you? GO HOME. YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THAT.
Crowds and overheated stores are recipes for disaster, but buying Christmas presents is something else - they're for someone else, the people you love, so it's fun to pick out items that'll make them smile. Isn't that the only good point of all this commercialism? So why would you ruin that by yelling at the person who has to spend their entire working day on their feet? Is the checkout guy in the supermarket really in charge of your entire happiness? Could any natural response in the face of your meltdown be OK? Do the people working in retail really need to have saint-like patience? In all the instances I've witnessed, there hasn't been a decent excuse for losing tempers.
Yesterday I darted out to pick up things I can throw in the freezer in preparation for the onslaught of Christmas cooking. As with most mysteries, it's unclear to me why families/general public attempt to make the supermarket a day out, but as usual the place was packed with folks strolling around at a glacial pace, taking up every inch of space making the store my own little obstacle course. I picked up the ingredients in record time and while making my way to the checkout I noticed and overheard two instances of customers going completely overboard with staff.
Last week in the city centre people were shoving their way through shops as if it was a competition. Prams parked in the middle of walkways, kids screaming and climbing over displays and saw one gentleman in the homeware department hide something he broke and the proceeded to get angry that he was noticed. "I'm NOT paying for it, you should display things better", after the staff member had only asked for him to step away from the broken bits of plate.
I hate when anyone tells me to put stuff in perspective, but people please put your shopping experience into perspective. I say this with love and tranquility - Get your head out of your arse. Be nice. Smile. Fake it till you make it. Buy yourself something nice if your inner toddler won't behave.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and may 2017 be less terrifying than this one for everyone.