The Dark Side of the Holiday Season
Feeling quite accomplished at having completed all of my holiday tasks early, I realized I had forgotten to go shopping for the few items I needed to do our annual Christmas gumbo. So, off to town I go on the Tuesday before Christmas.
What was I thinking? Living in somewhat of a bubble, as we are 20 minutes outside of town, I forgot what holiday traffic is like. But as I pull in to the parking lot at the supermarket, I find my usual close-to-the-door parking spot (I have amazing parking karma!), which I was feeling grateful for more than usual as the weather was quite rainy. As I walk in the sliding doors, there are no shopping carts available (another clue as to the amount of people out and about), but a nice man was walking out and saw me looking for one and gladly handed his over. "Hmmm...really good shopping karma today," I thought. Then, as I walked into the store and stopped to arrange my purse and shopping bags on my cart, I happened to look around and observe the people walking through the store. It was almost as if I were watching them in fast-forward, rushing around each other, frantically trying to navigate their long lists of items.
Of course, during the holiday season, the stores always rearrange the floorplan to sell hot ticket items, so like the rest of the shoppers, I found myself trying to find my items and back-tracked a few aisles at least twice. I managed to make it to the self checkout and luckily walked right up to an empty spot. As I completed my purchase and loaded my bags into the cart to head out, an elderly lady was trying to come in on one of those seated grocery carts and was having trouble backing it out of its space, blocking the exit. As I waited, three other ladies, somehow managed to navigate their way out of the door around the lady on the cart, essentially causing more mayhem. As the way forward cleared out, I watched as those ladies cut off cars in a rushed effort to get to their own vehicles (it was not raining at this particular moment), and wondered why everyone was in such a rush?
As I got into my car to head home, the traffic was at a stand-still. Waiting patiently to merge into traffic, a nice man let me out in front of him. I thought, "well that was nice of him considering he's probably been waiting for a while." There was a car behind me waiting to merge as well and saw this as an opportunity to dart out in front of this man too. For the next 10 miles, I couldn't count the vehicles that weaved in and out of traffic lanes at very high speeds, only to arrive at the next traffic light a mile down the road. As I made my turn off the busy road to head into the country, I found myself thinking a familiar thought, "Oh how wonderful it is to not have to live in the rat-race anymore!"
This entire adventure only cost me about an hour and a half from the time I left until I returned home, not really any more time than usual. But as I observed the people around me, rushing around in a mad hurry, putting their own "needs" first, I realized that this is truly one of the dark sides of the holiday season. What should be a joyous period is all too often turned into a crazy competition of who can shine the best, even at the cost of all those they stomped over to get their "Martha Stewart, picture-perfect" holiday.
And I wonder... what Jesus would think?