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If the day's not perfect, that's OK

December 01, 2006|by LISA PREJEAN

I was unplugging my cell phone charger when the cord got wrapped around a wiseman's neck. The miniature figurine on our kitchen counter took a tumble, did a flip, rolled across the floor and landed on his back. His beady little eyes seemed to stare up at me accusingly. I picked him up, checked for damage and carefully placed him back in the Nativity.

As I stepped aside and took in the scene, I thought of how we'd all like this season to be just right, for things to be in their places and for everyone to get along.

Then another person hastily enters the picture with different ideas of where the focus should be. Our plans are upset, and the conflict begins. (Perhaps her cell phone charger cord isn't wrapped around our neck, but it might as well be.)

This past Monday night I was shopping in some local stores, maneuvering through the aftermath of Black Friday weekend. The shelves were lacking, and I know I didn't get the bargains that some of you found. I just couldn't bring myself to shop last Friday. The kids were off school, I was off work and we just stayed home and enjoyed each other.

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So I felt like I had some catching up to do, shopping-wise. One of the items on my list was a gift for a December wedding. With registry in hand, I browsed the aisles trying to match the numbers on the list with the items on the shelves.

This is not something at which I excel. I never can seem to find what the bride has selected. When a clerk walked by, I practically jumped in her path and begged for help. She was gracious and agreed to assist. We searched for several different items but couldn't find anything on the list. About 15 minutes and five aisles later, we found what seemed to be the perfect gift.

I thanked the clerk and took my purchases to the cashier about five minutes before closing. All things seemed to be in order until it was time to scan the registry list. The computer kept flashing, "Item not found."

A manager came over and broke the news to me. The item I had just purchased was not the one the bride wanted. Did I want the item voided? I cast an apologetic glance at the people in line behind me as my bill was adjusted.

So I left the store without a wedding gift, but perhaps I'll find one someplace else that the bride will like just as well.

My shopping trip didn't go as planned, but I had a funny story to tell my kids about the importance of place value. Some of the numbers on the item matched those on the registry, but the order of the numbers was different. If the computer hadn't caught the error, the bride would have received a surprise gift. Details matter. Accuracy is important.

I also talked to my children about expectations and how things don't always go the way we'd like them to go. Sometimes we have to be patiently persistent, even with little tasks like shopping.

If things aren't going the way you planned this holiday season, step back and try to think of something you can learn from the experience you are having. Have patience with fellow shoppers, clerks, co-workers. Everyone feels extra pressure at this time of year. As a result, mistakes happen. Be forgiving.

It may help to read a good story with your children. Consider "The Light at Tern Rock" by Julia L. Sauer.

This Newbery Honor book is about a promise that is made but not kept. A little boy and his aunt take care of a lighthouse while the keeper is on vacation. When the keeper does not return as expected, they find that Christmas can be joyous amongst broken promises, isolation and unfulfilled expectations.

The true joy of Christmas comes from within, and no frustration, circumstance or setback can diminish it.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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