Christmas has felt kind of off for me this year.
I have been working in the customer service department of an e-commerce company. We run 11 online retail stores, a few of which have become very successful. However, as I am sure those who work in physical retail stores can attest, the days leading from Thanksgiving to Christmas are absolutely mad. (Side note: I would say that e-commerce is worse, but we don’t have to deal face-to-face with people. And I have never worked this time of year in physical retail, so really, I have no right to declare which is worse. Of course, I think people are more awful over the phone or e-mail, as they can ignore social rules of conduct and courtesy. But, I digress.)
There are people who are absolutely crazy this time of year! The Christmas presents they are buying seem as important as life itself! If an item was back ordered or their order wouldn’t get to them in time for Christmas because they misread the information on the website (ships in 2-5 days does not mean it arrives in 2-5 days), they threw a fit. Their fourteen year old son would not be able to wait two extra days for the $150.00 pair of boots.
I had a lady tell me that, because a pair of “foot undeez” (basically, half-socks) was back ordered until February, I was ruining her daughter’s Christmas.
For four weeks, we worked ten+ hours straight in order to answer phones and respond to e-mails of customers who all had one question on their mind: “Will I get it in time for Christmas?”
We bent over backwards for many customers, calling manufacturers and suggesting products and checking availability and even redirecting packages after they had already shipped out, which is not easy to do. And we did have some very thankful customers. A couple who apologize for their nasty behavior. But, in general, people forgot that we are people too. That mistakes happen, whether on our end or theirs. Their Christmas was dependent on our products, and if we could not get their order to them within three days (it’s amazing that people in Oregon think a package can ship from Arkansas to them within two days) then we deserved to be yelled at, cussed at, called names, whatever their form of venting released.
And that’s what I saw of pre-Christmas preparation. Not the fun Christmas music playing in cute little shopping centers with people dressed in red and white and smiling at each other. I am sure that was out there, or at least in the movies, but I saw a very greedy, very materialistic view of Christmas, where their happiness depended on a sweatshirt that of course has been on continuous back order.
That’s when I think all of us decided that we never wanted Christmas to be like that for us. For these people, it no longer seemed like it was about family and thankfulness and a time to reflect – Christ was no where near their Christmases.
I don’t want to value the presents so much that our happiness depends on them. I don’t want to raise children who are going to be extremely disappointed and upset that the pair of $20.00 socks is not in their stocking. I want the presents to be a fun, minimal feature of Christmas, and I pray that Christ is the forefront.
And this morning, as I woke up at 7 and came to the living room, I was happy that Eric and I only bought one present for each other. I bought fun little stocking stuffers as a surprise, but it’s mostly candy (and bb’s for his new bb gun he walked away from a Christmas party with – and the green army men for him to use as targets – in the basement not the living room). I sat down on the couch and read a chapter in the book we are reading together, given to us as a wedding present. It’s about the life of Jesus, and we are still near the beginning, so we have gotten to read some really great historical background and insights into the birth of Christ.
So this morning, as I sip my Earl Grey and await for Eric to wake up and open the new sleeping bag I bought him for our camping trips this coming spring, I am excited to give him a gift, but more than that I am thankful for the God of the universe choosing to live with us and die for us, of his own free will, because of how He loves us.