Yesterday was a truly wonderful Christmassy day. I mean, the kind of great day that makes me giddy & happy inside (that might have had something to do with the fact that I ended the evening with a margarita, but I'm not sure!)
I met my mom early at Nordstrom Rack for some Christmas shopping, and everything was strangely deserted. The shoppers that were there were all chatting with each other, admiring one another's finds, and telling stories. It was strange. No eye gouging, no pushing, no fighting for parking spots-- just peace, joy, and really great sales.
When lunch rolled around, I hadn't had quite enough yet, so we crossed the street to South Cost Plaza, and wandered for a few hours looking at things we didn't need, checking out Santa Claus, and (the best part!) listening to carolers. The mall had hired 4 carolers to wander around and sing to shoppers, and my mom & I were shameless stalkers. Call me crazy, but I truly had a worshipful moment in the mall, listening to Oh Holy Night! being sung by 4 college students dressed in Charles Dickens era costumes.
We ended with a Moroccan Mint Latte, sipping & chatting & people watching. I even felt relaxed and cheery as I sat in Friday rush-hour traffic for the 1 1/2 hours it took me to get home. There is something peaceful about sitting in a car in stop-and-go without anything to worry about (not even putting your foot on the gas peddle).
The other day, someone said, "I remember when Christmas used to be fun." It broke my heart to hear her say that. When I asked, she said that she supposed it was all the stress of shopping that took the fun out of it.
Thankfully, I happen to love Christmas shopping-- buying gifts for other people, and thinking of what will make them happy, or what fun extra thing you can add to their life. And I love all the decorations and seeing Santa at the mall-- even if it is just a ploy to get you to spend money. I love driving around the suburbs and seeing all the elaborate (and sometimes gaudy) displays on the front lawn, and walking around in the City, and seeing the high-rises lined with Christmas lights. I love Christmas music & Christmas movies... it all just gives me those warm fuzzy feelings the commercials tell you you're supposed to have. But it's not because I got some diamond necklace from my husband, or anything (like in the commercials), but something deeper and more subtle.
I have been thinking a lot about gratitude since finding out that we are going to Africa. Did you know that in a refugee camp there, there are some people who can't afford doors on their huts, and every night they live under the fear of being raped by the soldiers who should be protecting them?
I don't say this to be a downer, but because I have never thought about being thankful for a door. As I wandered around yesterday, looking at all the pretty things that I don't need, but that God has given me the chance to enjoy, I felt very, very grateful. Not guilty, or greedy-- just so grateful for what I have. It was a good day.