I could pretend that I've been blogging regularly and just say "Hey, where have YOU been?" However, it actually has been over a MONTH since I last shared my day with you ... and I have to blame it on Christmas!
I have always loved this time of year .. the holidays are near and, no matter where you go, people are either rushing around madly looking for that perfect gift for Granny ... who, at 92, already has everyting she can possibly need ... or, conversely, leisurely strolling the aisles of Wal-Mart waiting for inspiration! I'm sometimes tempted to nudge them along with my cart as my own personal form of inspiration ... the resulting headlines I imagined weren't ones I'd want my 8 grandkids to read
So, what do I love about this time of year? Let me share my day with you and I hope you'll see why.
This morning, I was at a local mall and had a plum parking spot .. the first one next to the handicapped stalls ... so you know how close to the door that would be. As I pulled out of my spot, a car behind me was waiting for me to leave so she could pull in. As I backed out, I noticed her delightedly clapping her hands! The volume of cars in the parking lot did not bode well for her. I'm sure she felt as if she had won the lottery. It tickled me that an inadvertent act of mine could make someone so happy and that she would be so open about her happiness.
Fridays is my "library day." I am the volunteer "computer docent," which is an important sounding title meaning "person you ask for help if you don't know how to (choose one: log in; send a document to the central printer; remember the pin number of your library card; or access your email account on Yahoo.com)." In other words, I'm a walking, talking "help desk."
So after leaving the Mall, I headed for the library. Lots of slow traffic put me there a bit later than normal, but I I expected it to be a "slow day" with the Christmas holidays beginning tomorrow, so my frustration with traffic was at a fairly low level. To my surprise, every one of our 14 computers was full and steady all afternoon. I noticed a certain air of desperation among some of the patrons in the library. The library will be closed for 3 days so folks were stocking up on DVDs, books, magazines, etc. It made me realize that not everyone's next 3 days would be filled with wrapping paper and ribbons, eating big meals and celebrating with family.
In the middle of the afternoon, a young woman tapped me on the shoulder and told me how happy she was to find me there. She had come to the library last Friday seeking help with accessing a state website that could provide some information she needed on child support. She had no idea how to even log in to a computer. I had stood with her and walked her through the steps for access, but, missing some information she needed, she had been unable to complete her task. She had left saying she'd come back later. I'm only there once a week, so I didn't expect to see her again, figuring she'd be back over the weekend and finish up. Her joy at finding me there matched my surprise that she was back. She was happy that she didn't have to explain her situation to someone else. I settled her at a computer that had a bit of privacy to it, acknowledging her concern about someone seeing her child support paperwork. With my help, she once again accessed the website and completed the documentation she needed. Once she printed her documents she made a point of coming back and thanking me. As she left, she turned and said "I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas."
A gentleman, who sounded as if he may have been a recent immigrant to our country, was printing 6 pages of a document, each page of which would cost him 10 cents to print. He tried to print the first 6 pages, but only had $.55 to put into the printer. I advised him that he needed to put another nickle in, and he started to dig through his pockets looking for it. At that point, an elderly gentleman, who had apparently overheard our conversation, walked over and dropped a nickle into the machine and then walked away, saying "Merry Christmas." No beard or red suit, but I couldn't help but wonder ...
After printing the first 6 pages, Mr. Immigrant Patron decided he wanted another copy of the document - so he needed another $.60. He only had a $20 bill, and the librarian could only change it into a $10 ten and two $5 bills. The patron approached several other people in the library and asked if they could change a five dollar bill. One man dug through his wallet and found three crumpled up $1 bills, and then went out to his car to get more change and brought it in to the man. Hmmm? The library's version of the Elf on the Shelf?
A woman about my age (in other words, very young!) was struggling to access her email. She readily admitted that she had just opened this account at a local education center as a way to help her find a job. She was a one-finger typist (no slam here - my husband is also and he navigates the keyboard almost as fast as I do!) but this woman was TRULY a novice. I helped her get into the account. But each time she clicked on an email and read it, she forgot how to get back to the list of emails and would attempt to log in over and over. She was near tears and I was happy to be able to calm her. She went out of her way when she left to come to where I sat and thank me. She also wished me a merry Christmas.
On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store. Outside the store, a group of 4 people were standing by the "Red Kettle" ringing bells, singing Christmas carols and offering greetings to each shopper who entered. Already buoyed by their good spirits (either seasonal or medicinal!), I have to admit I wasn't surprised to see a particularly striking customer in line buying groceries ... he wished me Merry Christmas and didn't mind at all when I pulled out my phone to snap his picture! And no one around him batted an eye!
To complete my day, one of the top stories on the evening news "Layaway Santas" all over the United States who are "paying it forward" by going to K-Marts and Wal-Marts to pay off the layaway balances for people they don't know. If you didn't see the story, check it out here: Layaway Santas. If this doesn't make you feel good about the world, you should see your friendly psychiatrist!
So on this December 23, my love of this season is reinforced. I am happy to report that there are indeed "people of good will" out there and I do think that Mary's Boy Child must be delighted that His birth is commemorated so appropriately. Enjoy Christmas with your families ... we are all blessed to have each other.