Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Simplicy of a Smile

You wouldn't think that a smile could make a difference, but it does.  Well, 95% of the time anyway. There are those grouchy people...

When you enter a store, or walk by another person, and they just look as though the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Maybe it is. We don't know. We just see them as another person, walking in the same direction.  And then, because you've been gawking at them. They feel your presence and look at you. In your head, you can say, think as you like, for instance, "Yes, I'm looking at you." But on the outside, you just smile. A look of, I don't know, a cross between, "Huh?" and "What the fuck are you looking at?" crosses their faces and then the most magical thing happens, they smile back.

The reaction on their faces makes me wonder, what has gone wrong with the world when smiling at another human being has become something out of the ordinary. 

I'm in the process of raising two boys. I'm a little old school, so I want my boys to be gentleman. Open doors for people, offer assistance to old ladies crossing the road... you get the idea, and to teach you must do.

Even when my children are not with me, I open doors for people, no matter their age, I'm already standing there, and it will only take a moment of my time to halt and hold the door to let another pass through. I do this out of kindness, respect.  I don't care for anything in return, oh, wait, that's a lie. I require a smile or a nod in greeting, perhaps even a thank you. And yet, these things in the town in which I live, seem to be looked at as a strange thing.

One day, an elderly lady was being smacked at by the rigid wind that came whipping out of nowhere. I had made it to the door first, and stepped aside to let her through.  She looked at me with wide eyes, hugged her purse closer to her middle and snarled at me.  In my head, I thought, "What the fuck, lady." But out my mouth came, "After you, it's cold out there today." And I smiled.  She hurried away as though any minute I planned on knocking her down and running off with her purse.

She in general, didn't make me mad. Okay, maybe she did a little. Let's be honest here, in my head, I called her a bitch. But, who am I to judge you know. Maybe in her life, somebody did good by her and than turned around and stabbed her in the back. It's not like that doesn't happen. It happens way too often.

But, she isn't the only one. On a different day, similar situation, same town, different person, I held the door. Another lady, closer to my own age, her hands were full and she was juggling a toddler. I held the door.  Smiled. She practically dropped her bags to hold her child tighter. All I could think was, Ugh, God, Lady, I don't want your child. I can hardly handle my own! But, I smiled anyway and went about my merry way.

I understand the uncertainty of people. I really do. I'm technically a reclusive person by nature and very skeptical, paranoid and often times skittish.  I jump at loud noises and find keeping eye contact with people really hard somedays.  But I have manners and I'm kind. If someone holds the door for me, I say thank you and I smile. It's not hard. And it takes no effort on my part at all.

I guess, the purpose of this post today, is to ask people to smile more and be kind. Nobodies asking you to give them a free car or hand outs of any kind, just a general kindness and respect for other people.

What is so darn wrong with that???

Sunday, December 23, 2012

In Pursuit of Happiness...?

As we are all aware, December 21, 2012 was rumored to be the day of our demise.  Well, the Earth is still spinning, no astroids came hurdling down to smash us to smitherines, nor did people mystically disappear leaving others to deal with God's wrath.  The Earth beneath our feet didn't crack open and suck us all in or throw others into the ocean, we are here, believe it or not, to live on.

And live we shall...

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. Even when I discovered that my parents were Santa, and not the fictional character that I thought him to be.  I remember it quite fondly, waking up late Christmas Eve, I think I was maybe eight.  I heard music softly playing, my Mom's laughter and my Dad's chuckle. So I uncovered myself and stepped softly to my bedroom door, where I opened it a crack to take a peek.  Of course, they were in the kitchen, to the right of my bedroom door, so I couldn't really see anything. Guttsy kid as I was, I stepped out from my door way, and I leaned out forward to see what was going on.  There they were, the kitchen table moved to the center of the room, wrapping paper and gifts layed like an explosion on the floor and chairs. Mom and Dad smiling and wrapping other unseen presents. I don't know that I was ever upset finding out that they were Santa. I just remember their smiling faces and the way they looked at each other. I remember listening to them sing and how they swayed to the music.  They had a different kind of magic that replaced the magic of Santa. It was a good memory, that I've saved tucked deep into the pocket of my brain, and I'm thankful.

I think that because of that moment, because of the magic of love, that I enjoy Christmas so much. It's not ever been so much about the presents for me, as being with my family.  I remember my Mom always complaining that nothing was ever enough for my brother. He had always wanted more, where as I, I always seemed to be happy with whatever I got.  Of course, I over heard these things spoken, another one of my creeping behind door moments, I'm sure. 

I don't know if I've done a good job passing on that magic of love at Christmas to my own children.  I know they surely enjoy those presents under the tree.  The more the better.  In fact, I know I've done a horrible job. My oldest child has started working this pass Summer, so this year he's all about buying everyone gifts.  So excited that he demanded we open a few early.  His gifts to us anyway. I, the fool that I was fell for the excitement that he had, and let them both open one gift I had nestled underneath the tree.  My youngest's response once he tore the gift of the wrapping paper free, was...."Thanks for nothing."  Talk about having the Earth crack open and suck me in.  My mouth dropped open, and then I closed it, my eyebrows furrowed together, and I said, "Now you listen to me." In my best Mom voice.

I'm sure you can guess this moment on your own.  But, we each have our own way of dealing so I'll tell you how I dealt. I told him he was rude. Unthankful and he hurt my feelings.  The reason I bought him the gift and why I thought he would enjoy it, therefore, making me happy just thinking how it would make him happy. How I don't expect gifts from them, but give them many. And this is what I get....Thanks for nothing. Well, if that's the person you're going to be when you open gifts, perhaps all those and future ones can go to children who don't get a visit from Santa or whose families can't give them a Christmas at all!! (Mind you, the whole time my voice rose until finally when I hit "all", I was yelling. - I had also turned on my heel, and stomped away from my child - like a big child myself!)

I'm sure that in the future these moments will be less.  That I can only hope that I do and say the right things to make Christmas about family and the magic of love more important than the gifts themselves.  Until then, I hope this finds you very Merry this Christmas and that you have a wonderful New Year!!