I love to observe people. I guess I'm a people watcher. I don't like to brag but I can usually assess what's going on in a group of people if I can just watch them for a little while. Well, my seat was facing a table where five women were looking over their menus. They seemed to be having a pleasant time. It looked like a mother in her 60's, her two daughters (30's), and two young teenage granddaughters. Now, since I didn't actually know them, I could've been way off on all that but those were my best guesses. Anyway, I imagined that they were out having a girls' Christmas shopping day on that cold, rainy afternoon and had stopped to take a lunch break. Probably, the night before, someone suggested how fun it would be to all load up and get out into the hustle and bustle and enjoy the season together. I felt sure that everyone thought it sounded like fun and agreed to make a day of it. Or, at least, that's how it all went down in my mind.
Well, I looked up from my menu to ask Carson what he was going to order and I saw one of the "daughters" saying something very serious to the "mother"......like she was saying something argumentative or something she needed to get off of her chest. Maybe it was about something that happened earlier while they were shopping. Maybe it was a grievance from a long time ago. Maybe it was something someone said. Either way, the teenage girls' eyes widened and they looked around their table to take in everyone's facial reactions. I felt like I was watching something that I shouldn't be seeing. Like the wreck you didn't want to see but, as you got closer, the curiosity got the best of you and you ended up gawking. I couldn't help it. It was like I had to know what was happening on this live episode of reality TV.
Well, I could see the mother's mouth moving even though I couldn't see her face. I could see that she was having her turn to reply to whatever was said to her. And then, it happened. The daughter's eyes began to tear up. It was one of those mother/daughter moments not ever mentioned on Hallmark commercials. The tears were probably a mix of anger and frustration and she crossed her arms and kind of stared off in the distance. Everyone at the table sat awkwardly. Not saying anything. But, in true southern form, it was all done quietly and discreetly. No scenes were being made. No screaming. No storming out. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have even known anything was happening if they hadn't been directly in my line of sight and, well, if I didn't have that people watching hobby. The mother paid the check and got up and walked on out to the parking lot. The others hung back and slowly followed at their own reluctant pace. Clearly, their girls' day out had made a serious turn for the worse.
I thought, "Well, it's that time of year again." Time for family and crowds and everything that goes along with them. Sometimes, our Rockwell moments take more of a National Lampoon turn as we try to execute the perfect family Christmas. Problem is......families are never perfect so it's hard for them to pull off perfection for more than an hour or two. We have visions of shopping trips and cookie baking and caroling that resemble Thomas Kinkade's imagination but then there are these things called hormones and sore subjects and insecurities and pet peeves and holiday stressors. Yeah, you get yourself a good case of PMS and put it in a car for three hours going to Grandma's with a low carb diet, a gum chewer, a smacking pet peeve, an incessant talker, and a screaming kid and see what a pretty Christmas card picture that makes.
Yes, 'tis the season when there will be too many of us crammed into kitchens. Trapped in cars for long periods. Sleeping on couches and hideaway beds. Stuffed into living rooms, dens, and porches. Squeezed around tables. Sharing bathrooms. Packed in stores like sardines. Suffocating in crowded elevators and waiting areas. Lost in miles and miles of lines. Bumper to bumper on roads and highways.
There will be people tucked into every nook and cranny of our personal space for the next 19 days.
And in the words of Ellen Griswold, "I don't know what else to say except it's Christmas and we're all in misery."
No, not really but it can get a little dicey at times. So, let's not forget to extend goodwill to each other during the Christmas season. If you think someone is getting on your last nerve, well, you're probably stomping all over theirs, too. May we find common ground there as we stand atop each other's nerves and agree to take one for the team.
"Peace on earth, goodwill to men."
Y'all have a good Tuesday!