Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Domestic bliss
That's pretty much what we've been having today, although parts of it didn't seem very blissful at the time.

As my lovely wife pointed out, there is a lot of pleasure to be had in hitting the stores and selecting just the right gift for those you love. There would have been even more pleasure in it, I think, had we completed the task a week or so sooner. On Christmas Eve, in my opinion, gift shopping should be through, and grocery shopping should be your main focus, as if you expected to be socked into your own home with an indeterminate quantity of relations who need to be fed. Which is, in fact, the case with us.

But, in truth, the biggest part of the shopping burden is complete (largely because, due to my medical problems, there isn't a lot of money to spare for it: shop intelligently, not extravagantly). It is the luck of the draw that a gift requiring personalization wasn't ready until Christmas Eve afternoon.

When I looked at those around me in the mall, I did not see growing desperation. I did not see cranky children. I did not see hollow eyes and aching feet. I saw smiles, I saw purpose... I saw Christmas. I saw a little Cindy Lou Who in the food court, spinning in place because she could, mother seated nearby allowing her child to burn off her energy in her own way. I saw passersby almost unconsciously veer to one side or the other to make room for her. So far as I could tell, I was the only person who actually stopped to watch -- but nobody was upset, disgruntled or inconvenienced. It's what very little kids do. I had an irrational, unconfirmable feeling that James Lileks' daughter, the Gnat, was also spinning, in the other direction, maintaining the fragile balance of the planet.

I saw a mall full of people who, by and large, wanted to be there. (Well, except, possibly, for the guy who was taking too long to engrave that bracelet we'd come for. I'm not sure about him. But the employee of another store in that same chain, who had come by to pick up a gift herself and took a moment to advise us as to the suitability of font, she wanted to be there. She made up for him.)

For what we are about to receive, let us be truly thankful. Even if it's the simple gift of one more day.

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