Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.  Luke 2:20

One of the best places to observe people, I find, is in the grocery store.  It seems to me if you are gracious or short tempered the examples of these traits will come shining through in a grocery store.
Just before Christmas I found myself pushing my cart around and observing the Christmas rush.  People seemed intent on what they were doing and yet filled with enough Christmas spirit to allow for a pleasant time.  The store was filled with Christmas, at least commercial Christmas.  There were Christmas; cards, lights, pudding, cake, cookies, wreaths, that seemed to stretch on into the horizon.   Everything seemed to be offered as a gift of some kind.  I mused, “This Christmas give the gift of Canned Spinach” and was having great fun with that.  Imagine trying to convince Carter Knight that “if you’re good Santa will bring you canned spinach”. I wondered if he would buy that.  This just didn’t seem likely.  Maybe I’ll ask Kristine.
I have always found this time of year to be encouraging and so I found even after some time I was having fun.  Oddly though I was beginning to realize that Perry Como had recorded every single Christmas song and hymn that had ever existed and they were determined to play all of them.  Catatonia was on the horizon.
The cart was beginning to grow heavy and I realized it would not be too long before I would check out when it happened.  I was close to the check out area when the Salvation armies’ brass section arrived and started to play Christmas hymns.  To me this added to the joy of the time but to others it did not seem as welcome.  A woman standing in line seemed exasperated when she said, god, not this crap”.  I would have guessed she would have liked to have the last few moments back, from a look that seemed to indicate embarrassment.
I can imagine Christmas overload can get to us all and I wondered as I finished up my shopping about her situation and felt sorry she was so overwhelmed.  Still it did provide a snicker.  As I stood in line the brass and woodwind instruments played on and a small crowd formed around them.  By the time I checked out and was heading past them people were singing.  This felt wonderful.  I could hear “Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ was born”.  Some hand clapping ensued as I walked by.  By the time I reached my car I was laughing.  All the Christmas craziness around me and I found one more. In the middle of the Salvation Armies’ Horn section was a friend of mine merrily blowing away on his saxophone.  He is an accomplished musician with his own big band and a practicing Reform Jew.

I was having a great time thinking that God certainly has a sense of humor and I’ve experienced it more that once, but humour at his expense?  It seemed so unlikely.  Still with all the blessings of Christmas I learned that God can gently nudge me, letting me know that as serious a subject as the Saviours birth is the joy and frustration of Christmas preparation need not be dour.
I welcome the season and all that it means.  I hope the woman who was so obviously tired had a good Christmas.  I hope my friend and Gods’ saxophonist had a good Hanukkah and I believe I will have a gentler Christmas with these memories.
All the best to you and your family at this wonderful time of year.

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