Got Your Shopping Done Yet?

snowmen ornaments on hedgeThe other day I was remarking to somebody that I’d been doing my Christmas shopping and found the stores seemed not to be playing so much Christmas music lately. I’d been to the mall and I hadn’t really noticed any irritating repetitions of that little drummer boy, or any of the usual favorites. She gently reminded me of my deafness.

Oh, true. One of the extremely few advantages of being deaf is that, even with hearing aids, ambient music pretty much disappears. Lately, I don’t hear store music — or show tunes in restaurants, for that matter. And I have to admit, at the risk of sounding smug (and c’mon, we deaf people don’t have a whole lot of hearing-related issues to be smug about) I really don’t miss it. Especially the after effect — that constantly repeating scrap of refrain that then follows one, internally, not to be banished, throughout the day. I’m not naming any names — these things, once thought of, tend to come on their own (sorry about that drummer boy).

However, this odd silence of the stores (well, I think of it as a silence) does make Christmas shopping a different experience. No soundtrack. It’s suddenly as if Christmas were a much more ecumenical, nay, even a secular, affair. Which is what it has become, hasn’t it, in the great world of commerce? white holiday wreath on doorI don’t mean (fearfully) that Christmas itself has become, or (stridently) ought to be, a purely secular affair. Christmas (and Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and all the ones I don’t know about),, of course, ought to be, for everyone celebrating, exactly what the celebration means to them. For myself, I find it a constantly changing, but always surprising event full of spiritual and emotional events.

Once I was a child. For a time I was a parent with small children. Now I celebrate quietly. But presents still come into it! It’s all good. But for malls and shopping centers, this kind of secularism is I think, pretty appropriate, because shopping is a game anyone can play. holiday wreaths on streetlightA game we want everyone to play. Isn’t the whole economy hanging in the balance? Besides which, it’s fun to get presents. It’s even more fun to give presents. Isn’t that what it’s about? I mean, this particular, shopping-oriented aspect of Christmas?

What satisfaction can compare to the one of watching the face of someone you love opening the present that’s exactly right? Well, there’s the risk, too. How can we be sure of getting it exactly right? There’s where another kind of fun comes in — and it’s toy rocking horsethe real fun of getting a present — the gratitude we feel at being noticed and singled out for a gift. What difference does it make what the object is? The gift is the gift. And that real gratitude is another kind of gift, a gift given back.

So, as this hectic season progresses, I wish you much cheer. If you’re shopping, I wish you luck in finding many of those just the right things. And also, the joy of being singled out.

Happy holidays! text and pictures, Susan Shafarzek

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