Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Late December Assessment

I gun for 100 posts per year.  I've never accomplished it, and won't this year either.  I'm falling short, which I'm sure is a blessing for anyone who reads here.  Perhaps a better goal would be 64: 4 posts per month, except during Thankful November when I'd shoot for 20.

Sorry for the lack of photos lately.

A friend of mine is moving away, which is tragic, because I just met her and she is amazing.  The last time I saw her, she said, "My goal right now is to become un-offendable."  That struck me in the heart.  I'd never thought of such a thing.  How beautiful would the world be, if we just didn't take offense at one another?  It would be terribly difficult to become completely un-offendable, but I do think we could all work to become less offendable, to choose not to be offended.  We can choose not to be offended by other people's bad moods, awkward comments, unfortunate actions and questionable choices!  What wonderful news!

This past weekend, an ice storm coated our city and its environs with slick, gleaming surfaces.  Arctic temperatures and hazardous roads stranded people at home over the entire last weekend before Christmas.  I woke up on Saturday morning at 4 a.m. with a headache, perhaps due to the low pressure.  Discouraged, I drank some water and went back to bed to try to sleep it off.  At 6 a.m. I awoke again, my head throbbing harder than before.  Again I tried to sleep it off, fitfully, but by the time I tried to muster the forces and become productive at 8 a.m., I had developed a full-fledged migraine with convulsing waves of excruciating pain.  The morning was swallowed up in ibuprofen, caffeine, ice packs, an epsom salt bath, deep breathing, forcing liquids, gagging on oatmeal, lying still with a shade over my eyes and finally getting the pain under some sort of control.  Shawn was a champion nurse.  We did zero Christmas errands.  On Sunday, the headache still hovered in my forehead and pressed on my eyes, although it remained at bay.  Church and home again was the limit.

Yesterday was Monday, and I went to the mall.  Mainly, I was going there with the intention to walk.  It was a Very Bad Choice.  You see, on Monday, the weather had cleared.  It was still cold, cold enough that they cancelled school, 4 or 5 degrees.  The sky beamed blue and radiant as only an arctic sky can do, while the ice on everything sparkled and crackled, ten million pins of light piercing the eyes of the world in stark contrast to the stormy gray days of the weekend.  It sparkled, but it did not melt.

Across this ice plane, under the clear and brilliant sky, our entire population--school being cancelled--skidded to the mall and filled the parking lots to the very last corners.  Everyone had to catch up the entire last weekend before Christmas.  I did finally find a parking spot, and headed in to walk with a friend, whom I located near the Gap.

Mall walking was not as bad as you might imagine, given the number of people there.  I guess they were in the stores.  The sales were tremendous.  Who knew merchandise would be marked at 75% off, on December 19?  Near the end of our walk, we ventured into some stores and were shocked at the bargains that abounded.  We decided to split up and buy some things before leaving.  I found a few (very few) small (very small) items and proceeded to wait nearly 30 minutes in a Very Long Line to purchase them.  I nearly fainted at one point, and had to squat down on the floor, there being nowhere to sit.  When lupus strikes, I have no dignity.

Upon finishing and escaping, I went out into the deep freeze and located my van.  The vehicles scrunched together like pickles packed tight in a jar, so I climbed in carefully, making sure not to bang my door on the next car.  Starting the engine and craning around to watch behind me, I slowly backed out of my spot until I was nearly in the middle of the lane.  Then, before turning hard on the steering wheel to execute the final maneuver, I turned forward to check the nose of the van and make sure it wasn't going to hit anything on its end.  Satisfied, I reverted to my rearward view so I could finish backing up, only to be horrified by the sight of a pickup truck backing out across from me, straight toward my van.  He was moving slowly, but he was not stopping.  I paused a split second as I ascertained that, indeed, he was not stopping.  No.  He was creeping steadily towards an impact with my prone vehicle.  Gulping air, I depressed my horn, but the beep did not deter him.  Frustrated, I then honked two more times, loudly, obnoxiously.  He stopped.

I breathed, both relief and embarrassment spreading over me.  Three or four pedestrians, walking up the hazardous lane toward the mall from their remote parking spots, stopped to survey the situation, jockeying between the hind ends of the pickup and my van.  The pickup pulled sheepishly back into its spot.  I was mortified that all these people had seen me honking, and I felt desperate to leave.  I wondered how long I was obligated to wait for the pedestrians.  They seemed to be shrinking back from the scene rather than forging ahead, so I decided to seize the day and get myself out of there.  Yes sir.  Out of there I went, still very carefully, but once I was able to change my gears from reverse to drive, I did not look back.

Un-offendable, eh?  Shawn tells me that it is different, that being offended is not the same as acting in self-defense.  He says it is a good thing I honked, because the pickup driver wouldn't have wanted to hit me any more than I wanted to be hit.  I'm not sure if I was offended; I was a little perturbed that anyone could just go ahead and back up in crowded parking lot on an icy day without looking carefully in all directions.  But mostly I felt embarrassed that I had honked like a maniac in the midst of a crowd like that; I felt offensive.

Assessment?  I might have done better to quickly shift the van to drive and pull back into my spot and out of the way of the pickup, had I thought quickly enough.  Honking is embarrassing, but Shawn is right, it beats car repairs and insurance claims.  Christmas shopping is the cause of much stress and even conflict.  Malls can be very scary, on many levels.

How could we maintain the spirit of love and generosity at Christmas time, while reducing stress and financial strain?  I had an idea:

What if we just gave everyone an ornament that symbolized something about the year, along with a dated letter explaining the significance of why we had chosen that ornament for that person, that year?  We could keep the letters in Christmas Files, and each year as we retrieved the ornaments, we could read over the memories in the files.  Christmas could become a time of remembering our lives' milestones and commemerating them together as we decorate and review.  On Christmas Day, we could unveil the new ornaments and read the letters aloud to one another like benedictions.  What do you think?

No comments: