Monday, December 07, 2015

Second Monday of Advent: Smile

Previously: Rest

It certainly wasn't the reaction I expected.

It was early November, not more than a day or two after Halloween. Coffeedaughter and I needed to run to Target, as is our tendency on my days off when it's just the two of us. We usually have a few small items to pick up, most likely because we've been assigned by Coffeewife to get them. I don't mind, because it gets us out of the house for a little while, and Coffeedaughter is usually up for a ride, especially when it might involve Starbucks banana bread at the end.

I knew what I was going to see once we got there. With the late October holiday just passed, many stores fast forward to the end of December overnight. Costumes and rows of candy are quickly replaced by lights and fake evergreens. We can't waste any time, now can we?

Sure enough, back in the seasonal section, that corner of the store had undergone a fast transformation. What little was left from Halloween had been relegated to a lone clearance aisle, and merchandise for the commercial grandaddy of them all had already begun to overtake everything.

Coffeedaughter was amazed, still wondering after the few pumpkins that were remaining and not yet really paying attention to what was replacing it. She hasn't yet experienced a Christmas where she's really been able to notice what's going on, although that has changed since we've decorated at home. Now she sees everything: the lights, the garland, the stockings, the tree. She's just as fascinated and in awe of it as I thought she'd be, her eyes twinkling as much as the small white bulbs that she won't leave alone. Her smile shines as bright. Brighter, even.

That day in the store, I didn't smile. In fact, I felt a bit of sadness for which I wasn't prepared. I still can't quite pinpoint its source. It could have been how quickly we as a culture shift from one celebration to the next, with no breathing room or down time. It could have been a certain melancholy about holidays past spent with family who are no longer around. It could have been a personal realization that I should start my own planning even if I'd rather wait until after Thanksgiving.

Whatever it was, it didn't let me greet this retail development with joy. And in fact, it made me wonder whether I would this year. There are certain years where I just never get into the spirit: I spend too much time thinking about its crass commercial aspects or the absence of loved ones to get into it much, and I thought that this might have signaled what my experience of the season would be this time around.

Fortunately, that has not been the case, at least too much. In fact, I'm glad to have been able to wrap myself into the parts of the season that bring me meaning, and for the most part block out the excess and noise. And in the times when that isn't enough, I have Coffeeson's and Coffeedaughter's excited smiles to sustain me.