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HOLIDAY Flashback, 2018

Hey, all! I’m re-starting my blog as a repository for general writing, thoughts, stories and things that get generally dispersed across different social media platforms, all to be lost, tears in the rain BLADE RUNNER style at some point.   To that end, a “Facebook Memory” surfaced from 2018, which read more as a blog post than anything else.  So I figure I’d rescue it from that stream and fix it here into the constellation of curated observations under my own banner.  

(Also, as a side note: December 2018 was the darkest month of my life and one that I very nearly did not emerge from. I’m sort of heartened, in reading this, to know that even when I was pretty much ready to leave the world, or at least pondering the exit, Hamlet quietus-and-bodkin style, my thoughts were still about seeing how things can and should be better for other people.)



So the other day, I was at the post office, picking up a roll of stamps. As this is the holiday season, the post office is pretty packed; a sizable line in front and behind me. Directly in front of me was an older lady. She was at that casual intersection of overweight and elderly that becomes a kind of de facto disability, and she had a series of packages. I offered to help her bring them to the desk, and she was appreciative and sweet in her thanks about it.

“Of course,” I said.  

The woman was in a worried and profusely apologetic state; she was unsure about how much it would be and what some zip codes were, and she kept on apologizing for being a bother and a pest and the girl that processed her packages was kind and helpful to her, smiling and reassuring all the while.

When her packages were all set, she thanked the postal worker girl, who was young and enthusiastic. The older lady was white and the postal worker was biracial, with a beautiful head of amazing hair, all natural and free.

The older lady said, “Dear, I just want to thank you. When I came in here, I was in such a panic, and I thought I’d be a nuisance, with all my questions, and you’d be annoyed with me and well, you just *couldn’t* have been more helpful!”  

The postal worker smiled warmly and said, “Oh, no worries at all, ma’am. Happy holidays!”  

The older lady, caught up in this moment of warm conviviality, having been happily assisted, without solicitation, by the young man behind her (that’s me!) and the pleasant young woman behind the counter, responded reflexively, with a genuine smile of her own, and said, “And happy holidays to you, too, dear!”  


I saw a look hit her face, as she heard her own words. It was like the face you might make if you bite into an apple and find it has gone mealy. Or the kind of involuntary twist of your facial muscles that happens if you put a fresh 9 volt battery to your tongue.   She then looked nervous, and knitted her brow into an arch and seemingly dared herself to push forth with a confrontational, “Merry CHRISTMAS!”

The way she said it, and spat it out, with a kind of “hmmff!!” nod at the end, and turned and then rushed (well, as much as she could, being old and wide and wobbly) out of the door, it was clear what inner monologue was occurring to her.  

It was a fair bet, upon first seeing this older lady to make assumptions about her TV viewing habits. This person was the prime market for the product FOX NEWS sells: a mix of feel-good virtue-signaling of flags-and-patriotism and victimhood and fear, where everywhere, good people are ASSAILED by the “War on Christmas” and immigrants and out-of-control liberals, hell-bent on turning everything gay and godless on her taxpayer dime.   But what struck me was how she was clearly also *naturally* not a bad or bitter, ugly or awful person. Just a little timid and afraid, but warm and gracious by reflex when met with kindness.  

The Bill O’Reillys and Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of the world are not doing this woman any favors. They’re making millions of dollars, selling her a vision of a hostile world of furious liberals, waiting to burn her bible and support terrorists, and to **RUIN** Christmas by making it ILLEGAL, or whatever madness they peddle.  

Here was this person, helped at every direction, having a pleasant series of interactions with everyone around her, who, upon a parting kindness, felt suddenly that she was **honor-bound** to her “friends” Sean Hannity and Rush and Lou Dobbs and whoever else to stand firm and strike a blow for Freedom and Liberty(TM). She was conditioned, and I stress— against her impulses– to see enemies everywhere. For the profit of fear-mongers. And for what gain?  

What’s more the pity is that she was specifically on the receiving end of the peace-on-earth and goodwill-towards-men that the season she has been taught to feel is under assault represents. Hers was the literal ONLY attack.

  They’ve weaponized and poisoned the phrase “Merry Christmas” into a contrarian and defiant poke in the eye. Sticking it to the libs.   But here’s a secret: no one has EVER, EVER been offended at being told “Merry Christmas.”  

Her recreational victimhood, the kind FOX sells to people like her, who may only really see the folks on the news more than they do real live people during the day, turned her ACTUAL warm and friendly acceptance from strangers into a hostile encounter, in her mind. She left that post office feeling like she had been FOOLED by the smiling girl, who had shown her “true colors” at the end, and her takeaway was negative.  

Merry Christmas, indeed.  

Epilogue: When I left (I was only buying a roll of stamps, remember, and I can walk faster than the lady) she was lowering herself into her car. Parked, without tags, in the handicapped spot.

And the back of her bumper were no less than 3 TRUMP/PENCE bumper stickers.   She has no idea she’d being used as a commodity, and getting the shitty end of the stick in the bargain. Now, whether she’s to be more pitied or despised is largely a question of your own nature.

Personally? If I saw that same car wrapped around a light pole a mile down the road, and an ambulance pulling out an unmoving body, I’d shrug and say, “That’s one more handicapped spot available for a person who comes by it more honestly.”

Better people than I would feel sorry for this woman, and the prison-planet she’s put herself into by buying into a worldview of fear and anger.  

Anyway, that’s my little tale for you today.  

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays.

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