Peace, Hope Love and Joy? I need a reminder because for the last week or so it has been a struggle to find any of these as people scowl, push and shove and screech their way around the shops. It is more like a season of anger and despair as parking rage, trolley rage and queue quarrels are in evidence everywhere. The only jingle bells I am hearing is that of the tills beeping and pinging as the plastic meltdown is in full swing.
The shopping centres are forecasting a bumper season and so, I should imagine, are the panel beaters judging by the number of bashed bumpers I saw on Friday and Saturday. What is it about this time of year that brings out both driving skills regression and shopping aggression? It’s a mad rush to get anywhere and manners are left at home. Don’t get me wrong – it’s wonderful that the retail sector of the economy gets a cash injection and I love exchanging Christmas gifts, but surely we could handle the run up to Christmas with a little more love and a little less selfishness!
I had to pop into Walmer Park on Saturday to exchange a dress that I had bought for my granddaughter – she has definite tastes now and the pretty floral party dress that I had bought her for the photo shoot with Santa failed the test – “it makes me look as if I have boobs,” declared the 6 year old - in ten years time I thought it will be the perfect dress! Anyway they are leaving today to go back to Pretoria so we had to pop in and change it for something she liked, a mission in itself – to shop with her and her baby brother – but made into an all out war by the behaviour of other shoppers. The floor in the kiddies section in Woollies was strewn with new clothes that were being walked all over by half of PE. Dresses were snatched off hangers to be examined and then put back anywhere and anyhow as they were rejected by harassed parents. One little girl stood out in a beautiful party dress in the centre of the chaos, while her parents took photographs of her on a cell phone and waited to hear from someone on the other side like a weird telephone phone auction. A toddler lay in the shoe section surrounded by odd shoes and hangers - kicking and screaming while his yummy mummy finished her conversation with her friend. The scene resembled a battle ground and the shoppers walking wounded! Jessica found a dress she liked and had enough left for a pair of pretty sandals.
At the exchange counter a line of weary women tapped toes and sighed as EVERYONE was taking too long and as per usual half the tills were not open. I waited as patiently as you can with a 15kg Velcro baby swinging around your neck and an excited six year old doing ballet moves. When it was finally my turn I was told, “Lady – she has 2 left feet! “ Eying my very graceful granddaughter – I had to disagree. “No man – these shoes are odd – you will have to get me the other one,” snapped my friendly WW assistant. “No, please don’t make me go back in there,” I pleaded. She looked from me to the bouncing, jumping, swinging children, recognised the desperation and took pity on me. Off she took with one of the offending shoes while 15 pairs of angry eyes bored into the back of my neck – more sighing and tapping. Five minutes can seem like five hours when you are under scrutiny like that. There was a happy ending though – we were able to leave the shop and the chaos behind - for another day at any rate.
So please – PEACE, HOPE, LOVE, JOY – keep repeating this as you drive both your car and your trolley and remember some christian charity for your fellow man - after all Jesus is the reason for the season!