Today was depressing. I know...I have been a complete scrooge this holiday season. Not to my kids. No..to them I am one happy elf who can't wait to open the next pocket on the Advent calender, and see what glorious activity we are going to be doing for the day, praying that I didn't stuff this day's pocket with the activity that says Ice Skating, or Caroling To The Neighbors, but instead one of the easy and warm ones like Movie Party, or Make Cookies.
In our house the month of December has been filled with gingerbread house decorating, and wassail simmering on the stove. They've had mom-loves-me-bars baking, and the Bare Naked Ladies singing Oh Hanuka at the top of their lungs. They've had rosemary trees, and paper whites blooming. They've had friends in from out of town, with sleep-overs every night. They've had new warm flannel jammies, and claymation movies with bowls of Pirates Booty. They've had a jolly ol time. And a jolly ol Mom...or so they think. It's not that I'm not jolly. It's just that I am not THAT jolly.
I used to think that Christmas should be the end of January..or February. That it came too close on the heels of Thanksgiving, and for all the work you do to set up for it, it would be nice to be able to enjoy it a bit longer. You know..the way a pumpkin can last you all the way from September 1st until October 31st. But no..on the Christmas tree, and ornaments, and lights, and decorating it is all for just a couple of weeks of enjoyment.
And then the beginning of January..who really wants a dead tree? And suddenly all that STUFF just feels so STUFFY. Come January 1st I feel like having a home out of an IKEA catalog..where everything is white, and minimalist, and the only decoration is one plant. I want clean, non-kitchy, simplicity. Of course, with kids-that is an impossibility. Garrett would poop all over that Scandinavian white sofa on moment one making me long for my busy, red and black toile micro fiber again. But white would be fresh and new.
Where was I? Oh...yeah, so I am grumpy. I went out to run a few errands today..and it sucked. I wasn't in any lines. I didn't go to Walmart, or Kmart, or any mart. I got my bangs trimmed and had some photos printed. And in that space of one hour I was a complete scrooge. Not to the hairdresser or the photo-person..but in my head.
The inversion in Utah was as thick as pea soup. Disgusting. Truly, like you were breathing in the exhaust from the back of some one's tailpipe. And here I was, out driving around on my stupid errands, even though it was a "red air quality day" according to the platinum blonde on the news station, and I should not be driving unless it was an emergency. Looked like all the folks at the Taco Bell hadn't gotten the notice either..or else they were having an equally serious taco emergency.
So, depressing weather. Then, I have to drive down State Street to get to the photo shop, and to be honest that entire street is depressing. Is that a constant? That every State Street in all of Utah look like a total dung hole? I mean seriously, I feel like I could get on State Street in down town Salt Lake and drive all the way to Payson, and it probably would look about the same the entire stretch south. Pep Boys, and an Office Max. Some giant shopping plaza with about a dozen FOR LEASE signs littering the windows and lawns out front. A McDonald's, and a gas station. An office complex that looks deserted. A car lot, and another, and another. One that still has cars on the lot, and the others closed and out of business..their colorful banners still waiving in the air. A vacuum repair shop, another fast food shop, and a Mexican food restaurant.
It all seemed so depressing. Here it is, one week before Christmas, and you can smell the desperation in the air of these businesses on State Street. Hoping that that Sunday mailer that they sprung for will pay off and get some customers in the door. Even in my "east side neighborhood" there were signs of the times. The hip coffee shop on the corner was out of business. The high end children's clothing store looked like the racks were bare for this time of year..a sign of clearing out merchandise before they closed their doors for good. High end condos had a giant banner hanging outside offering $14,000 back to buyer.
I hate consumerism. But even worse I hate families being out of business. We have been there before. Only once..for a short period. And thanks to family, we were able to make it through. But for a lot of families..their world is turning upside down. I am so insulated. Gavin is in the health care software industry. Like being in the missile business in the middle of a war. His company can't hire fast enough. And I am in school..which is a complete bubble. There are no sales to make, no boss to impress. It's just learn, learn, learn.
After my errands were through, Gavin texted me and asked me to stop by our neighborhood market and pick up some items for our dinner. Their front lights were dark in their cafe, announcing that they could no longer afford to keep it open for dinner. The fluorescent lights inside seemed to flicker, and even the cheesy Christmas songs that played couldn't mask the worry that was present in every employees face. Their boss, and the owner of the market, had just told a newspaper reporter that he was set to close down the market at the start of the new year, due to his market's loss of business.
He blamed it on retaliation for his politics that many of his customers didn't agree with. He is the local city councilman, and he had taken a strong stand against a local business owner relocating their store in his district. The store he opposed sold lingerie, and some "adult products" which he called obscene. I think that the newspaper article mentioned the word rubber penis three times, and quoted him as saying that anyone that owned one was a pervert. Not so good for business..apparently. Although a lot of neighbors seemed to think that a restaurant manager with a sour puss attitude and a drop in quality of food may have had more to do with it.
Regardless..as I pulled in to the empty parking lot, my heart sank. Inside, I got salmon from my butcher Oko. He asked where I had been, and when I told him that my family had been sick, he said that he was sorry to hear that. I began to complain about having sick kids, and then he said that his niece had been sick. I said that I was sorry, and then he said that she had just died from the illness. My mouth dropped open. She lived back in Ghana, where Oko is from. He is trying to get back to visit his family. Okay..time for me to not feel ANY SORROW for my family's illnesses. Left the market feeling even more deflated. Drove the couple blocks home through the pea soup of chemicals, back to my happy-little-gingerbread-house-that-was-cutely-lit-up-and-decorated. And walked in the door to laughing, and playing, and life. I put on my happy face, until the kids went to bed.