Not Found in Stores

The littlest angels can teach us the biggest lessons…

Christmas Eve was here. The spirit of the season could have bit me on the bum and I wouldn’t have felt a thing.

My sour mood was attributed to working in retail. In September, I unloaded Christmas merchandise. By Halloween, I’d had it with glitter. Glitter was embedded into the fibers of my clothing and speckled my irises.

Forget Thanksgiving. Everyone else seemed to. Retailers, my store included, chose to open our doors on Thanksgiving Day. We now had Black Thursday instead of a holiday of thankfulness. Society now had 363 days a year to shop. I dragged my feet to shop once a week for groceries.

Sarcastically, I thought “I’ll have to thank people for coming in. My job depended on customers to buy the turkey I’d not be enjoying with my family if I was scheduled to work on the former holiday.” The Christmas holiday was a long preparation for what amounted to a twenty-four hour period to spend with loved ones. Then it was back to business as usual.

The closer Christmas drew, people became more frantic as if the fate of the world rested on just the right present for Aunt Mable. I felt truly sorry for a person who thought happiness resided with the red NOT the white flannel pajamas, size large (and why doesn’t your store have anything I want two days before Christmas!)

There was a good chance I’d see Aunt Mabel returning whatever gift you finally chose. Aunt Mable would have a selection of socks and underwear to choose from. Though , maybe, she’d be happy because panties were really what she needed. If not, we always had a ton of generic looking sweaters left. We had the same style every year since the beginning of time and you could always use another one.

What I wanted for Christmas and never got was more than one unrushed day of time with my family. Impossible, Aunt Mable would be knocking on the store’s door bright and early the day after Christmas. I’d have a few hours in my shift before most other families left their dreams.

If I was lucky, I wouldn’t fall asleep tonight, like I did last year, in the middle of our annual family viewing of White Christmas. There was no chance of me catching Santa. I barely made it to nine o’clock. Pitiful.

As I squeezed in closer to my daughter to make room in the pew, I realized Christmas Eve Mass was the children’s Mass. Great, it would be long. I couldn’t help but feel with all the uncharitable thoughts churning in my head as of late, I’d be destined for someplace hot, extremely hot.

The shepherds started up the aisle. Whoever thought to give young boys shepherd crooks, sticks really, realized this was a bad idea halfway up the church. The shepherds’ staffs were collected at the altar. The older girls led a procession of angels to the front and lined them up on risers.

One of the youngest angels sat down after a while, legs kicking off the side of the riser. She was tired, so she rested. No doubt she had been rushed around the last few days too. I thought, I’m with you babe.

The shepherds, without crooks, feared not and gathered around Mary, Joseph and new born baby (doll). Though they wore bored expressions minutes ago, their faces now reflected awe and wonder.

When the next song came around, the tired one rose and sang with her angel choir. The angels were an enthusiastic bunch. Robes twirled. Halos bopped back and forth regardless that the music had stopped.

They had me. The children with their joyful noise unto the Lord brought tears to my eyes. How the children brushed off the madness we adults made of Christmas and belted out a carols with such happiness was a miracle.

Christmas wasn’t what was around you, but what was inside of you. To give what is inside with love and joy as these children had was the gift everyone looked for, but could never find in a store or be bought with any amount of money. On this Christmas Eve, I was blessed to be the recipient of this great gift.

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