I’ve been feeling left out. It seems that everyone (and by everyone I mean all of my favorite bloggers) have had a Christmas story to share. I do not. Well, I take that back. I do, but I was threatened by my family. Fingers were wagged, serious voices in menacing tones were used and there were likely veiled threats which could have put my Christmas/Birthday loot at risk. Hmph. You win this time, family. Then there’s the other story where I spent an entire day being quite rude and when asked politely what I did by some strangers, I may have said somewhat snidely (although, there’s no actual proof and character witnesses are notoriously unreliable), “What do you mean? I don’t do anything. I’m an uninteresting person. All I do is sit quietly and listen to people.” Then I folded my arms across my chest in defiant hope the attention would move to someone else. (Maybe not my finest moment, but I had worked myself into a full blown holiday snit with no hope of escape. It’s a better story if you know all of the players anyway.)
Then a Philosophizing Mouse whispered in my ear that I did in fact have a Christmas story. (You may have your little birds, I prefer deep thinking navigational computer tools. Hey, I don’t judge you.) The mouse was right (as always), I do have a Christmas story. One that will keep my Christmas/Birthday loot safe and one that doesn’t involve a tale of me growling for hours, (oh, “Home for the Holidays” how you get me) which makes it a “nice” story.
Jay and I were invited over for a Christmas Eve celebration involving food and games. The only request our super enthusiastic hostess had was that we wear a Christmas outfit. Well now, I don’t have a Christmas outfit. When I confess this, it is suggested that I buy a shirt and draw a tree on it. Oh my, I could do that, but… You see, I haven’t had a Christmas outfit (or even a shirt I’ve drawn a tree on) since I was a pre-teen. It was around that time that my eyes rolled into the back of my head only to remain forever stuck. It’s especially pronounced when I’m confronted with the phrase “Christmas outfit”. There are two things working against me when it comes to the whole idea of a Christmas outfit. 1) Christmas Day also happens to be my birthday and I’m a little weird about how much of my day I’m willing to share with Christmas, so we’ve drawn up a truce. In that truce I’m fairly certain it states that I don’t have to wear a Christmas outfit. 2) I am not whimsical. I am without whim. Ask anyone who has ever asked me to do something silly. I am pointedly against whimsy. No whim here. Whim Free Zone! I am also shy. Outfits, festive hats, etc. bring attention. How perfectly mortifying for me. And now you know why I took improv. As they say, “I’m a work in progress.” One day, I may be whimsical, but not today.
Now the person asking for this outfit is someone who you don’t want to let down. She LOVES Christmas!!! Not even a mere “loves”. No, it’s a LOVES!! And that’s when I found myself at HEB (our local grocery store chain) on Christmas Eve heading to the Christmas aisle to see if there were any Christmas headbands. You know the kind with antlers or a tree or maybe a snowman. If all else failed, I could get a Santa hat and while the thought of wearing such a thing pained me beyond belief, I knew it would be greatly appreciated. I marched through the store while a little pep talk played through my head. “You can do it! Do it because it will make someone else happy and it won’t hurt you. Go on now. Just one more aisle.”
I rounded the aisle passing a woman who was hopping on one foot with a single goal to… “Are you ok?” The woman hopped away, “I twisted my ankle.” “Do you need help?” “No, I’m just working it out.” “You sure?” She hopped alongside me until we made it into the aisle. “I’m good. This just happens.” After some convincing that she didn’t need help, I moved to where the headbands would be if the aisle hadn’t been devoured by shoppers who were clearly more on the ball than I, but I was still optimistic. “Oh, would you look at how cute this is.” My hopper had become more of a ginger limper and brought over a festive Christmas tray. “Adorable!” I turned back and refocused. Surely, there were some antlers here. I just wasn’t seeing them. “Look at this!” I smiled politely to comment on her latest find. She offered up that she was picking things up for her fellow teachers while I foolishly told her about my Christmas outfit mission. The next thing I knew she’d limped to my side and was pulling things down. “How about this? You can wear this ornament like a necklace. The contrast would be great if you had a green shirt. Do you have a green shirt?” No. “You should go to Hobby Lobby, get a green shirt and then…” She had a million suggestions. My eyes went wild as I imagined puffy paints, a Bedazzler with fake plastic jewels and then I pictured the glue gun mess and crafty thing carnage splattered across my table. It was awful. I tred not to audibly yelp. I should mention I’m not crafty. The right side of my brain is a tiny little nugget – a place where creativity leaps into an empty abyss. She continued to throw out suggestions, nuzzling in closer to my side and then my “fight or flight” reaction kicked in. I politely thanked her and ran to the opposite side of the store. “Bad idea. Bad idea. Pick up things. Get out.” It was one of the few times I was thankful for HEB’s expansiveness. With the distance I began to breathe more easily and felt pretty confident that with her bum ankle I’d never see her again. How far could she reasonably hop? Cue the Psycho theme music, because as soon as I felt safe she’s on me again before I could even scream. “I found you this shirt!” It’s a holiday shirt. “Wow! Look at that. That’s not atrocious.” (She caught me off guard. It was the nicest thing I could think to say that wasn’t, “OH MY GOODNESS!!! You again?!?! How did you… How could you… AHHH!!!”)
I escaped the store with a poinsettia in hand, looking over my shoulders as I made my way to the car, and I was hopeful this plant would be enough of a distraction that the hostess wouldn’t notice I wasn’t wearing a shirt that blinked or sparkled. That night I even donned my favorite crimson sweater and threw on poinsettia earrings – a compromise.
No mention was made of the holiday outfit. Whew.