So this is prose and rambly, and won’t be very skillfully put down.
Tonight my wife and I went to a local mall. If you live or have been to Southern California (or have ever watched one those news programs about malls and how much money they make at Christmas), you may have heard of South Coast Plaza. It’s been around for years and years, and has evolved apace with the unending passionate consumption South Orange County. When I was a kid, the had a Woolworth’s and my dad would take me to the lunch counter after church for lunch, usually greasy deep fried burritos.
I have no idea how or why Woolworth’s was selling these fake-a-ritos. I’m sure they were the Mexican analogue that Chun King chow mein in a can is to Chinese food. But to a kid, they were good.
That was over forty years ago. Woolworths is long gone. Many stores appeared and disappeared like capitalist fever dreams over the years. Sears has remained, maybe the one and only store to not change. That and the carousel.
Tonight though, my wife and I went to get her an early Christmas present. Spur of the moment thing, something she’s been wanting, but not really asking for. We are weird when it comes to presents for each other. We avoid waiting for birthdays and holidays, and if one of us really wants something, we just buy it and the gift is presented with a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Birthday” even if those events a half a year away. So this was a little unusual, this trip so close to Christmas to buy a present. (Though to be be true to our own natures, there was no wrapping or waiting. She opened the gift when she got home.)
After buying her present, there was no need to rush home, so we walked around. And I discovered, that, without the pressure of having to be there, of needing to find the perfect present or toy without which Christmas would be ruined and our children would have to seek therapy later in life, without that hanging over my head, it was really kind of wonderful to walk around. To see people.
Yes, there were some, rushing, pinched, panicked faces, and I could relate because I have been where they were. But I wasn’t tonight. I enjoyed the happy people who were just enjoying themselves, the kids excited to see Santa, the kids screaming because they wanted to be anywhere else, the couples clinging to each in the crowds, the music, the bells, the lights, the lights, the lights.
The press of people, for once, didn’t bother me.
And for that, for being able to enjoy that time with my wife, I am grateful. And I wanted to say it.
Well, write it.