The Christmas Job
As if I were not busy enough, our daughter Sonja asked if I wanted to work with her as a seasonal hire. With a little trepidation I agreed. My first day was “Black Friday,” the busiest shopping day of the year. My job description was simple: stand near the entrance of the store and greet the customers. About an hour into the job my ankle socks were creeping half way down my foot; first the left, then the right. Even though it was uncomfortable, I kept it to myself; no complaints on the first day. As the day progressed I got to meet several of my co-workers. These dedicated people are required to park off the premises to allow shoppers to have first dibs on parking. It’s a distance from where they normally park, so they must allow another half-hour in order to make it to work on time. Sonja’s team is kind, courteous, and always willing to help facilitate customer satisfaction with every sale. I watched as each one of them shared their special gifts on the sales floor, so different from one another but working beautifully in sync.
Since I was closest to the door, I had the advantage of watching the shoppers passing our store. I saw a couple who were wearing matching necklaces of outdoor lights around their necks. My only conclusion was that they were hanging the outdoor lights when they realized it was Black Friday, so they just wrapped the Christmas lights around their necks as a reminder to put the lights up once they got home. Then there was a lady who stepped into the store pushing a baby stroller without a kid in it. I kept my mouth shut, but I wanted to ask her, “Excuse me ma’am, but did you lose your child?” I remained on the square carpet that was my designated section and made certain to stay in my area, to keep peace with my boss. I thought for sure that my legs would kill me but, much to my surprise, I was hanging in there like the rest of the much younger group. All my complaints were in private, and only for Sonja’s ears; she kept reminding me that I could get fired (that would not be the first time). When I got home that night I ate dinner and, though I was not physically tired, I fell asleep on the couch. My body was feeling exactly as after feeding the homeless on Skid Roll; I was mentally exhausted.
Getting Fired on The First Day of Work
This is not my first rodeo working for my daughter. A few years back when she was in charge of opening a chain boutique with high-end jeans, she hired her cousin Rocky and me. Rocky was visiting from New Orleans, and was only in town for a few weeks, so this was the perfect gig for him. On the first day we all car-pooled to the store in Ontario. It was mid-July when the store was opening a new branch at Ontario Mills. This is the location of one of the biggest outlet malls in Southern California. Our job was to fold the jeans a certain way and display then on the shelves. How challenging could that be?
The complaining started early with Rocky, holding the small of his back. “Aunt Lynda, my back is killing me!” My reply was, “I’m older than you and my back hurts more.” Every time we folded the pants, Sonja would walk by and violently undo them, making a startling snapping sound. “You are not folding them right!” When Rocky and I made eye contact, we weren’t sure whether to laugh or cry. This was a continual recital on Sonja’s part. All the hard work was certainly not paying off, and Rocky was hearing the same criticism; we just could not fold the stupid pants to Sonja’s satisfaction. Finally when the day was almost over, it all clicked and we redeemed our work with perfectly folded jeans. We were both scheduled to work the following day; we had breakfast and waited for our car pool to arrive, but it never came. I called Sonja and she said, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you!”
Advent is often referred to “Little Lent” because it is a time of penance, preparation and sacrifices. For this reason the priests’ vestments are purple. During Advent our thoughts should be on the coming of Christ and preparing our spirits to welcome Him into our hearts. On the third week of Advent the priests’ vestments will change. They will likely wear a rose color to remind us of the penitential color purple, but this also comes with luminance and joy. This is a reminder that Christmas is soon approaching. Just like Lent, we are to be in a prayerful state of mind, fasting, and almsgiving. This is the season of giving joyfully to others in the spirit of Christmas love. It’s wonderful to give and receive gifts, but its purpose is to understand the true meaning of this joyous season as we celebrate the greatest of all gifts: the birth of our Savior.
St. Francis of Assisi contributed so much to Christmas. He is credited with introducing the first Nativity scene. According to St. Bonaventure’s biography, St. Francis received permission from Pope Honorius III to set up a manger with two live animals. St. Francis used this scene to preach the birth of Christ but, according to Bonaventure, St. Francis was so overcome with emotion that he could not say “Jesus.” It is also said that the hay used in the first manger had miraculous power to cure local cattle of diseases and pestilence. St. Francis was a great patron of the arts as well; he was the first to introduce Christmas Carols into the Mass.
In 1818 Josef Mohr, a young Austrian priest, wrote Silent Night. The church organ had broken down and could not be repaired before Christmas. He wrote the three stanzas to the song to be sung by the choir accompanied by guitar music. Silent Night was first heard at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at St Nicolas Church in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria.
My job is a small seasonal part of my life. But the celebration of Christmas will go on forever. Our moods are filled with joy, we are more apt to share kindness with strangers, and, once again, we can say, “Merry Christmas” to the customers we encounter. The Spirit of God is alive and well in the hearts of many! Spread the Joy! Rejoice in His Birth!