Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I used to like Christmas, then I hated it, now I like it again

Cuz I'm fickle like dat, yo.

I loved Christmas as a kid. My mom wasn't really your typical mom (she didn't bake cookies and she definitely didn't decorate the house for the holidays) but she always made sure we had a nice holiday season. The tree, the presents, the Christmas music, the fish (we're Catholic), it was all pretty awesome.

And then I got a job in retail. Oh. My. God. There is no better way to ruin the spirit of the holidays than listening to a combination of the same 20 Christmas songs for 6 weeks straight and customers bitching about coupons and a lack of Hanukkah gifts. (That was a completely unintentional stab at the Jews, but it stays.) I could tolerate it while I worked at a bookstore because it was a small environment and I was just a lowly employee; the biggest thing I had to deal with was running out of singles in the register. And then I became a manager at a department store. Holy birth of Jesus. Have you ever tried to manage a department with one working register and a line of 50 people? Have you ever had your life threatened by a tall Asian man who demanded that one cent be put back on his credit card? Have you ever stood in the middle of a sales floor and shouted the words, "Ma'am, please let go of Kermit the frog and stop calling my employee a racist bitch"?

Ah memories. Such special times, the holidays. You can see how retail sort of messed with my ideas of giving and receiving, of celebrating the birth of our Lord savior Jesus Christ. The last thing I wanted to do after 10 hours of listening to "Jingle Bells" and running out of boxes was go home and listen to more Christmas music while wrapping presents.

But then a wonderful thing happened: I quit that retail bitch like Oprah quit pasta. No more working 12-hour shifts. No more folding wool sweaters until my hands were itchy and swollen. No more pleading with customers to leave the store after the lights had gone out and the doors were locked. This will be my fourth year of not working retail during the holidays, and I think it may be the magic year. Because for the very first time since I was 17, I am actually singing along to Christmas songs. I can walk into a store and not have a panic attack when I hear the words, "I want to speak to your supervisor." I am strangely looking forward to putting up the tree, and I didn't roll my eyes when my aunt got sucked into the 30% off Christmas Decorations Sale at Bloomingdale's last week. In fact, I bought her an ornament for her tree. Me! Spending money on such silly things!

Now that I can finally enjoy Christmas again, I have some things to say: Mom, I'm sorry I refused to help you decorate the tree all those years. I was in a really bad place. It was called Macy's. I'd also like to take this opportunity to apologize to my roommate Stephanie for threatening to shank her if she put Christmas decorations in the apartment we shared during law school. Steph, you did a really great job and I'm sorry Mike and I teased you about the stockings on the mantle, cuz they were actually pretty awesome. And finally, to the store manager at the Macy's who took my blood, my sweat, my tears, my Christmas spirit...to the woman who forced me to work on every holiday because I wasn't married with children and then lectured me when I took off July 4th weekend to be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding...to the person who rolled her eyes at me when I told her I was going to the emergency room because I broke my finger at work:

SUCK IT, BITCH. I hope you enjoy your 100th Christmas working as a retail manager. You are the only reason I am still considering pursuing a career in law, in hopes that I will one day represent an employee who collapsed in your store because you forced her to work ten twelve-hour days in a row while she was 7 months pregnant and had the flu. (True story.)

Hmm. I guess I didn't completely get back my Christmas spirit. Ah well. Maybe year 5 will be my magic year....


Liz said...

I did Christmas help at Filene's one December. I feel your pain.

I go back and forth on Christmas too. Generally, I love it until I go home and find Hurricane Mary in full swing (that would be my Mom, not Jesus'). After getting yelled at for the 11th time that I couldn't possibly have dusted the whole house in an hour (which is, in fact, totally possible) the Christmas spirit has generally left me for merrier pastures.

The One and Only Kristy J said...

holy hell this was funny!
i can't imagine working in retail this time of year, i would definitely be in jail for beating the hell out of a customer, points to you for making it out alive and not ending up in jail or fines out the wazoo!