Monday, November 24, 2014

The Christmas Shopper

Last week, my focus was on a craft fair day. Before, during and after the craft fair - when my tired old self recovered. Bending over a table from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. will separate the men, er..women from the ... oh, never mind. This cliche is useless to women. You can separate the men from the boys, but the women just have to cluster and maintain, I guess.

Observation: Too much Christmas is the stores already. This comes as no surprise to you, I'm sure and I say that because most of you have eyes (I say most to give me an out if my ocular speculation is really off base; if you don't have eyes, we're still good). You've been in stores and seen the crazy merch out in all it's glory. Even the grocery store is decked out. Did I miss the Thanksgiving nod? Personally, I like to celebrate Thanksgiving first and then think about Christmas. How crazy is that?

While gathering the last bit of supplies, I saw the one Christmas tradition that I deplore - yet empathize with completely. I'm talking about the traditional Christmas shopper's kid tantrums. Don't get me wrong, I love kids. Dragging them through the stores at a time of year when everything says "Santa's coming!" and "what fun!" will actually cause the kids to think "Yippee! Christmas is here!"

The thing about it is, Christmas is not here yet. They don't understand that. Incredibly, you are the Mom or Dad, and you are buying something that screams presents and Christmas - but it's not for them right now. What kind of bizarro world is this? Every shelf is geared up for the holiday and every parent is at the mercy of merchandising. Double that holiday shopper-stress when you're pushing a buggy full of kids. 

In the craft store, I watched two poor little tykes as they cried and cried for candy canes while Mom explained they were for the tree, then they cried for the Snowman from Frozen toy. As the buggy rolled down the aisles, they found more things to cry about. I think it might have been about three hours past nap time and four hours past their prime. 

Later, at my table at the craft show, I realized that a lot of my own items weren't really kid friendly. They're very small charms for lockets and bracelets. I tried to engage little people in conversation while the adults shopped. Apparently, I'm not as interesting as bits of metal and enamel. Parent after parent stood next to their kids and repeated that all-time favorite mantra: "Don't touch, I said don't touch that...put that don't have to touch everything..."

It was a futile gesture. They're kiddos.

Because I had shiny jewelry items in the mix, each time they would leave the table I would get out a soft cloth and wipe away the finger prints. One little lady, who I shall call Deirdre (because her name wasn't Deirdre), came back four or five times to rearrange the entire table for me. How nice.

Near the end of the day, I started to get my stuff together; I was looking forward to the end. It had been a long day. While rearranging the boxes and supplies under my table, I heard a little voice say, "Ma'am?" 

A young blonde haired boy, about eleven years old, stood at the table. Must have been native, he was wearing a bright orange UT shirt (go, Vols). He questioned me what an item - it was a box of charms for some floating lockets I had for sale and he didn't know what they were but they looked like something a girl would like. Guys don't know this stuff, at any age. I explained how the lockets opened and how you could put any charm in that you like. He looked so serious as he questioned me, and finally he said, "I'm shopping for my grandma. That is really pretty but I don't think I can afford that. What else do you have that doesn't cost so much?"

"What's your 'grandma' budget?" I asked. 

He pulled some bills out of his pocket and counted out fifteen dollars. There was something about this sweet, well-mannered boy shopping for his grandma that just melted my heart. 

"I'm sure you can get anything you want from my table for fifteen dollars," I informed him. 

The item he was looking at was a floating locket marked $25. I picked it up and asked if that was the one he wanted, and he said yes - but it was too expensive.  To stress the point, I repeated: "YOU can get anything you want for $15..." 

His face lit up and I could tell that he was so excited. For the next 15-20 minutes, he and I had the best time putting charms in the lockets and holding them up to the light to see what looked best. Sorting through crystals, I told him which colors represented the birth months and we added a bit of bling and he agreed that a bit of glitz made it look "fancy". We picked out the best chain and debated gold versus silver while he told me how his grandmother liked to dress up for church and wear jewelry. 

I was prepared to just give him the items, but in the meantime, his mom walked over to see his progress. She scanned the prices and started to inform him that he didn't have enough money, but I gave her the mom-to-mom telepathic message that it was okay (actually, it was just a nod and a wink). Then he held out his $15 proudly and she gave me the mom-to-mom eye that said I had to take it. He turned to her and said, "I did it! I found something really nice!"

That made my day.


  1. Good morning, dear Cherdo!
    (Can we be Deirdre with each other?)

    It's a wonderful life and the Christmas spirit is alive and well thanks to you, dear friend. That boy melted your heart and your story melted mine. If everyone committed random acts of generosity and greatness, not only at Christmas time but all year 'round, imagine how different this world would be. I salute you for seizing an opportunity to manifest the true meaning of Christmas.

    I agree that the commercial side of Christmas gears up far too early in the year and blinds us to what the holidays are really all about. I saw myself in your paragraphs about kids begging and screaming for toys, candy and other items in stores as Christmas approaches. I have vivid memories of my mother pushing me up and down the aisles of a department store. Everything I saw on the shelves I wanted - NOW - not later: Barbie's Dreamhouse, Barbie, Midge & Ken, Raggedy Ann, Chatty Cathy... Eventually my mom grew so tired of my whining that she ordered me to get up and walk, reminding me that age 35 was too old to be riding in a stroller.

    Happy Monday, dear friend Cherdo!

    1. Ha ha ha crack me up.

      My little Christmas shopper made it all worth it. That and the fact that my friend's husband rolled my stuff out to the van and loaded it (Thanks, Craig!!).

      If I were grocery shopping, I'd still put you in the buggy seat. I have no problem with that. No candy before dinner, by the way...and no wait till your father gets home...

      Monday is off and running - have a great one and be safe!

    2. Yes, he is. He never fails to make me laugh. Maybe he's the extra son you didn't know you had.

  2. Now THAT is the Christmas spirit!
    Very nicely done.

    1. A big ole' dose of that everyday would make a person immortal.

  3. We often see the children that are crying and behaving poorly. I know i could never, ever, have done that or my butt would have been sore. Nowadays my mom would be in the slammer for spanking us when we deserved it. I don't remember the spanking for the hurt but for how bad I was and that I knew I deserved it. OK that is for another story. I can relate to how you feel as I helped my mom for years with craft shows and it can be daunting. To see a child, well behaved, asking questions and knowing what to touch and not touch must have made your day. It makes me feel great and i am just reading this. What is also so special is this child was thinking about someone else not himself. Christmas is about giving and warmth and peace and making someone happy, it's not just about children getting gifts. I would want to almost hug that boy...must have been nice. I hope, though, you do not have to go out Friday as I hear it is crazy

    1. If there is any way possible, I am not leaving the house on Friday, period. It's good advice, Birgit!

  4. I never realized how hard that was on the kids! I wrote a blog about it last year and was surprised, in my research, to find ads from the early 1900s and such that showed promoting Christmas before Thanksgiving isn't a new thing--and many commented that they remembered from childhood seeing Christmas in stores in November. What about October, though? I saw Christmas decorations up when we hadn't even celebrated Halloween this year! But, also in my research, I found studies that said that when polled, most people said they don't mind the fact that we gloss over Thanksgiving.

    My take on it? Retailers have figured out they don't make any money off of Thanksgiving (aside from grocery stores), so they skip right over to the holiday that makes them the most... And so many people have been out Christmas shopping over the past couple of weeks, I guess it works.

    1. You're so right - it is a business, and the business doesn't work without sales. And if they're all working and selling, they'll never see my blog complaining about the crowds, so it's all good.

  5. I hate you. I have a tear in one eye. It might fall out and mess up my make-up. God bless you and God bless that boy. I'm going to sing to you again. You just wait. You'll hear it. What bothered me was going to Lowe's for plants before Halloween, and the front of the store was full of Christmas trees and those horrible, huge inflatable yard decorations that make me queasy.

    You know I don't hate you at all. I love you, because the tear hasn't yet made its destructive path now my cheek.


    1. Permanent make up is the answer - then, it can be your party and you can cry if you want to, cry if you want to, cry if you want toooooooo....

      He was the sweetest little boy.

  6. What a great story! I'm glad you found a well-mannered boy. That was really nice of you to let him choose whatever he wanted for the $15.

    1. There's lots of well-mannered kids around, I just seem to miss them some days.

      That boy really did make my day. I miss boys who act like boys and seem to love their grandmas.

  7. Kids want what they want Cheryl and I'm staying home Friday if I can help it.

    1. I always had the sense that you were a man of great intelligence and wisdom. This comment proves it.

  8. CHERDO ~

    >>... Double that holiday shopper-stress when you're pushing a buggy full of kids.

    Well, that's what the buggy whip was invented for.
    You can't herd cats, but you can hurt kids
    and that makes life worth the living.

    OK, OK, I'm... "kidding".

    I'm listening to The Beach Boys, so obviously I've got my snark on.
    [Yeah, I know that doesn't make a whip of sen-- er, I mean, a LICK of sense. Just smile and nod.]

    Please don't be upset but... I think this is my very favorite of all your blog bits I've thus far read.

    Yeah, yeah, I know... I like the funny ones too - I got as good a sense o' humor as any horse's patoot, but... this one was just all warm-hearted and glowy and made me feel good to be alive and...

    ...and ...I'm gonna stop now before I say something that will give the impression that I'm not really the curmudgeonly, old cantankerous person my Ma raised me to be.


    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Stephen, I see through you, dude. There is a heart under all that bluster and I'm calling you on it.

      Again, with the pesky kids - they want you to let them in the house.

      (Thank you for your kind comment. I try. Be careful out there!)

  9. That is the best Christmas story. Sadly, as far as I see, well behaved kids are harder to find than the ground in upstate NY atm. It's wonderful you found a good kid and rewarded him for it.


Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo