I stayed up too late last night and got up too early this morning. And I almost never get up early when my kids aren’t here. It takes something pretty important to get me out of bed early if I don’t have to go yell “Get dressed! Eat your breakfast!” a few dozen times.
Last week at church, our pastor gave a great sermon entitled “All I Want For Christmas Is… More Stuff.” All of his sermons are good, but this one was one of his finer ones, and timely, of course. Rampant consumerism. Subversion of the true message of Christmas. Let’s get back in touch with what’s important. Etc. Really, just a wonderful piece. As dedicated Christians, we the body of our church all murmured to one another about what a fine sermon it was, and then turned our attention towards prepping for today’s Big Christmas Fair Where We Sell Lots Of Useless Stuff And Take All Your Money!
The BCFWWSLOUSATAYM, as it’s known for short right here in my mind, is an event not to be missed. The array of offerings is varied and astonishing. And it’s always held on the first Saturday of December, which is when all the other churches hold theirs, so we get to be part of the cool kids crowd! Well, not really, but we do get our very own bus stop on Fair Saturday. And also lots of people who might not otherwise show up if they hadn’t just come from the church across the way and were still seeking the perfect Decorative Moose In A Pot (or DMIAP, as it’s known in some circles).
I know when something is important. So you betcha I got up early this morning, put on my incredibly dorky but Festive! So Festive! snowman sweater and my gingerbread men earrings (motto: You’ve got tiny ossified baked goods danging from your ears!) and went to work at the Fair. Through a combination of poor planning and, um, let’s see… poor planning, I ended up being a cashier for the morning.
For me, this was dandy. It meant I got to sit down the entire time, which is lovely because I am lazy, and it also meant that I was never in the center of a pressing throng of people (which does happen at the BCFWWSLOUSATAYM quite regularly) quietly wishing I was less claustrophobic. It also meant I really got to turn on the charm for which I am so very famous. For example, one woman handed me a five to pay for her $4 ornament, and I tried to pay her $16 to take it off our hands. You know, just for kicks. Or perhaps because I hadn’t had any coffee yet and I thought she’d handed me a twenty. Thank goodness she corrected me, and no one saw that happen. And by no one, of course I mean only a dozen or so of my fellow parishioners, including the pastor. Oops.
Do you know the best way to recover from a little bitty error like that and pretend it didn’t really happen? Spend the next fifteen minutes cheerfully declaring, “We’re giving away money here today! Come right on in! I’m paying you to shop because we’re JUST THAT GENEROUS!” I’m pretty sure that the cashier next to me just slipped and didn’t really mean to stomp on my foot like that.
I also used my stellar manners to make friends with those misguided souls who came in, took a shopping bag, wandered around, and then tried to discreetly put the bag back before leaving, empty-handed. “Excuse me,” I would say in my most sympathetic and kind voice, “but I think you may be a bit confused. The idea is to put things in the bag, and then you come give me all your money.”
You can see why it was very important for business that I be there today.
Now today was a gorgeous, clear day. The air was crisp but it wasn’t too cold out (for December, anyway), and on the whole, people were in the spirit of the season. The “thank you”s and “have a great day”s and “Merry Christmas!”s were flying fast and furious. We had shoppers coming over from some of the other churches, and there was plenty of banter about “checking out the competition” and “venturing into enemy territory” and then someone else would come through the line with twelve pounds of cookies and a decorative snowman fashioned entirely out of dust kitties and tinsel and hand-painted acorns and we’d all have a good laugh and put some more money in the box and it was all very harmonious.
Only one visitor to our little fair drew my wrath. And really, since I tend to wish various people dead multiple times in an ordinary day, that’s pretty good. Right? Say right. Anyway. This one woman came in with an entourage of biddies, talking loudly and ignoring our greeter as she went. “I DON’T THINK THIS IS THE ONE,” she told the others, as she looked around with a slight sneer, “THE ONE I’M THINKING OF HAS A COOKIE SWAP!”
“Excuse me, ma’am,” I offered, “we do have a cookie walk, it’s over there on your left, and you can select–”
“NO,” she cut me off, “This ISN’T the one!”
“Okay then!” I smiled until she stopped glaring at me and huffed away. “Well, that was pleasant!” I remarked to no one in particular. Time passed, and I forgot all about her. Until she came back through.
“WHERE IS THE FAIR WITH THE COOKIE SWAP? WHICH CHURCH?” she demanded.
“Gosh, I’m not sure. But I hear this isn’t the one!” Have you ever noticed that the more steam comes out of someone’s ears, the easier it is to smile sweetly? Maybe it’s just me.
“I NEED A MAP OF THE OTHER FAIRS!” she sputtered.
“Certainly, ma’am. We have a copy right here which you’re welcome to take a look–”
“THIS ONE!” she exclaimed, one hooked finger jabbing the paper into the table. “TELL ME HOW TO GET THERE.”
Her confusion was to be expected, of course. She was looking at a map, and heaven knows a person can’t be expected to navigate on their own from something like that.
“Well, we’re number 6, which is right here,” I offered through teeth that were only a little bit clenched. “You want number–”
“TELL ME WHICH STREET TO TAKE, I DON’T CARE WHICH NUMBER YOU ARE!”
Well, I was pretty much all done, then. I could’ve continued trying to help her, but in the face of what had been a lovely morning up until her arrival, I found that I now needed to turn 100% of my attention towards picturing her jowly, scowling head skewered on the top of the tree that was holding the wooden ornaments. But then I felt sort of guilty, because that would’ve wrecked the tree.
My fellow cashier took over. “That’s on Union Street,” she said. “So you go out here, turn right, go around the loop, and then take your first right off of there.”
“WHAT? You lost me!!” And she shook her head in disgust and left.
I waited until the door closed behind her to holler, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
Because it just ain’t Christmas until I have to make nice with somebody who’s crazy!
Anyway, it was a great way to spend the day, and now that I’m home I have to face up to certain harsh realities. Like that the Christmas stamps I bought earlier this week are missing, and my Christmas cards are here and I cannot mail them until I find the stamps. Which are missing. Even though I just bought them. Which makes me crazy. If only I’d bought that creche made out of popsicle sticks, this might not be happening. Live and learn.