It is possible to be submerged into the heart of the Christmas season without actually feeling any joy. How, you ask?
By working in retail.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a gradual shift in the mood at the shopping center. It started with the irritating elves who marched around the top floor, singing carols. Then a giant silver cone was erected in the atrium just outside of my shop. I think it is supposed to be a tree. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey belt out carols from the speakers, and Santa has taken up permanent residence at the base of the cone, down on the ground floor.
Despite all of this apparent festive cheer, it has not infected the general population. People are moody and irritable. There is lots of eye-rolling and shouting at children. Lists are produced and items are wearily crossed off with every pair of board shorts, wallet, or beach towel that is purchased. Every day I burn the familiar path through the hallways to Breakaway, passing different stores that run different promotions by the day. Last week, there was a jostling crowd bunched in front of King of Knives, eagerly awaiting the moment that they would open their doors. Who gets up early for knives? It upsets me.
This week, it was the one day sale at the jeweler’s around the corner. Again, people lined up, arms crossed, lists at the ready.
Santa is not without his admirers, either. On Saturday morning, the line of restless children and exhausted parents stretched beyond the velvet ropes, already tens of people thick, and Santa hadn’t even made his appearance yet. Children roam around the stores wearing felt reindeer antlers as a prize, “I visited Santa and survived.”
I feel like I’ll qualify for a t-shirt once this is all over. “I worked at Breakaway surf over the Christmas period and lived to tell the tale.”
But first, I’ll have to get through it.