Random seasonal observations…
Every Christmas season I schedule a family week. Well, it hasn’t always been a week. The larger our family has grown the longer and longer it takes to complete, but I love it. I take my wife and my children away one at a time. I take them wherever they want to eat, then take them to buy their gifts for the rest of the family. It’s a special time for us, but it also gives me an opportunity to do one of my favorite things… watch people. As a pastor, I spend my life trying to help people. So I try to take the opportunity to watch people and ask the Holy Spirit to help me see what is actually going on. I may not always interpret things exactly right, but I learn from it nonetheless.
Here are some simple observations from the past week.
“Merry” is not the adjective I would use to describe most people out there this week.
Stress is already building for the new year. As I watched people, I could see the physical recoil from people putting something in their cart. You can almost feel the pain of the January credit card bills.
Work is available to those who need it. I don’t want to hear anybody complaining about needing a job. There was store after store that needed extra help and minimal skills are needed. For example, a cashier at one store said, “I can help the next customer who is not using cash.” I use cash, so I patiently waited for the only other cashier working. When I got there I said, “It must have been busy today if you ran out of change already.” In a very frustrated tone she informed me that they had plenty of change available, but nobody that could accurately count it. Yet, anyone could swipe a card. Yikes!!
What are we doing to our children?!?!? I lost count of how many times I saw an argument between parents and young children this week, usually in a toy aisle. It even caught the attention of my 10 year old daughter. After seeing an incident, she informed me that the reason she doesn’t act like that is because her dad, “don’t count to 3. We are in trouble on 1.” While I thanked her for her observation, I politely asked her not to announce it out loud as we walked by said incident. The stress of the season, which is self imposed, is no reason to be short tempered or unkind to our children.
There are people doing it right. In the midst of chaos, there were those that kept it together. One lady was side swiped by another shopper in a hurry. Without even apologizing, the shopper continued in haste to attain their desired Christmas gifts. The lady, who was left there with a sideways cart in the aisle, just looked at me, shrugged, and smiled as if she was happy that she was the one who had been the recipient of rudeness and not the one who was rude. God bless her.
A kind word can mean a lot to someone this time of year. People are much more responsive to simple eye contact and a sincere “Thank you” this time of year.
People need Jesus. I can’t help but wonder if the time that we set aside to celebrate Christ, actually has Satan smiling. We stay so busy that we walk right by the Savior that we are “celebrating” this time of year.
These are just my random thoughts and observations. It’s easy for me to be critical of what I see in our culture. However, when I put the mirror on myself, I realize that I have much to work on as well. Lord, help me to remember you this season.