Christmas spirit is a holiday gift meant to spring up from spontaneous acts of generosity. You don’t ask for it–it happens when you least expect it from a friend or stranger overloaded with holiday goodwill and sugar-laden treats. But somehow due to the heavy rotation of stories like A Christmas Carol and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, people believe it should be shared at all times in December. They even demand it!
Too bad though I don’t want to give anybody anything. By this time of year I’ve given so much to so many people throughout the year that I want to give to myself and no one else. That doesn’t make me a Grinch, it just makes me someone who wants to be left alone. For instance…
CHRISTMAS SING ALONG
Just last week I went to an outdoor public holiday sing-along. I arrived early to get a good seat under a heater with a great sight line for my two-year-old son to watch the band. A woman who arrived later demanded I move over one so she could sit next to her grandson on our row. Forget the fact that there were plenty of empty seats around us or that the seat I had was empty because it was for my son who was with grandma using the potty, her wish for that chair was more important because she wanted to enjoy this holiday event with her grandson. And besides, she informed me, “You can’t hold seats for people. I can get a security guard and have you taken out!”
Then a woman in front of me got into the mix and told me to give the woman my seat. I explained that it was my son’s seat. “Oh like he’s going to watch.” “He will,” I told her proudly, “He goes to concerts.” She rolled her eyes, “It’s Christmas! Can’t you show a little Christmas spirit?!” No I couldn’t and nor did I want to. And neither did that lady in front of me because she never offered her seat to grandma either.
A few years back on Christmas day I went to see the opening of a movie with my husband. Once again, I arrived early. I walked in, counted the rows and the chairs to pick out the two most dead center seats. With our spot secure, my husband went to grab some concessions.
During this time the theater started to fill up in the middle but everywhere else there were plenty of seats. Then one guy came up and saw some empty seats on our row and asked that I move down. My brain froze. I didn’t want to move but my well-trained guilty conscience suggested I move over even if it meant denying myself a perfect seat. But knowing that this way of thinking is what causes me to be emotionally drained by the end of the year, I told the man, “No.”
The man’s eyes widened. “It’s just a couple of seats down,” he retorted. I looked around and saw there were still plenty of other seats available. “No,” I said again. The man’s friend showed up and the man moved on, but not before snarking back, “Great Christmas Spirit.” Everyone on my row then looked at me as if I had broken an unwritten rule. I thought I had done something admirable. At last I was thinking of myself before others. Merry Christmas to me! I shrugged my shoulders and looked up to watch the pre-show.
Then a couple came up and asked if I could move over. “No,” I said. Once again I was met with looks of dismay, “Seriously?” “Yes,” I said again. As a favor I pointed to some seats down the way. The couple twisted their faces and puffed, “Merry Christmas!” “Merry Christmas,” I said right back but not as angrily.
My husband finally showed up with popcorn and drinks when another couple (I sh*# you not) came up and asked us to move over. Before I could say no and tell my husband about everyone else who wanted me to move, he moved over. Then him and the couple waited for me to move. I didn’t. When it became clear I had no intention of ever getting up my husband looked at me like I was crazy and asked, “Aren’t you going to move over?” “No,” I said.
My husband was mortified, “Why don’t you just move over?” “Because I want this seat,” I told him. My husband begged me with his eyes to move over. I kept my coat in my seat and told him I would see how the new seat was. I moved over and sure enough it wasn’t perfect. And for a few seconds as I sat there in that less than perfect seat I thought, “I fought hard for my spot. Why do I have to move over just because it’s what my husband wants? That’s not even what he wants, it’s what they want? Why doesn’t he do what I want?” I looked at my husband with much love knowing he’d be hardheaded about thinking I was hardheaded and got up, moved back over to my seat, took my popcorn and said to all three waiting on me, “No.”
“That’s really nice of you,” the couple huffed at me while the theater filled up more and more around them. I replied, “Thank you,” because by now I was enjoying being the sh*%head everyone was making me out to be. Desperate, the couple tried one last tactic: reasoning. “Is it that bad of a seat? Can’t you just move over one place?” Tired of the back and forth and wanting to enjoy the pre-movie show, I chomped on my popcorn and said, “You asked me if I could move down. That means I have a choice in the answer. I gave you my answer.”
Then like an army of reinforcements coming over the hill to save a falling army, a woman behind me yelled out, “Leave that poor woman alone! She said no! Why does everyone keep asking her to move over?! She was here before you were! Get here early if you want this seat!” I turned around and thanked her.
So now when I think of Christmas spirit, I don’t think of sweet strangers handing over free mugs of hot cocoa, I think of anyone courageous enough to defend those of us in great need of being a little greedy at this most needy time of the year.
Pictured: Smilin’ Snowman, ShazzMack, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Commercial-Sharealike 2.0 license