Be careful what you wish for.

12-12-14

Wow! The West Coast is drowning in water after three years of drought-like conditions. Homeowners prayed for rain to salvage their landscaping and the farmers needed it for their crops. Well, now what Californians coveted for so long has become a devastating reality, so will someone please turn the taps off soon for them?

These floods are proof that Mother Nature listens, so, if anyone is looking for a white Christmas, keep those wishes to yourself, okay?

Speaking of wishes, you’d be hard pressed anymore to wish upon a single star these days. Who can find such a perfect star in the inky black sky, amidst the meteor showers, humongous moon and even Comet 67P (and no, that’s not code for one of Santa’s reindeer).

So, if you’re looking for a star to make a wish on, you’d better use the one at the top of your Christmas tree.

On the heels of yesterday’s commentary about graciousness, the innate ability to know right from wrong and respecting one’s elders, I had a most-unique encounter this morning.

I have a knack for being able to strike up a conversation with anyone. I didn’t always have the gift of gab, but working at the local diner while I attended college made me fearless about talking to anyone. It was the greatest job I could have had as it brought me out of my shell.

Often while I am meandering along the trail at Council Point Park, if I pass someone that is alone, I always briefly stop to pass the time of day. Sometimes I move on, sometimes I just walk along chit-chatting amicably for a few minutes.

It was very cold but dry when I ventured out this morning. I passed an older woman walker on the first loop around. I didn’t recall ever seeing her before, but it was kind of hard to tell since she had a scarf loosely wrapped over the bottom half of her face and her hood of her jacket flipped up. All I saw was eyeglasses. I walked alongside with her, said “good morning” and we chatted about the weather – always a common and “safe” topic for walkers.

Keeping in step with her, I remarked “only two weeks ‘til Christmas is here” and she said “yup, don’t really care though” … rather taken aback, I let that comment stay out there a minute, then decided to let it drop it like a hot potato.

I was prepared to move into the passing lane and continue on my way, then she piped up with “done with your Christmas shopping yet?” Well my gift-giving and receiving is not too complicated, and, after her rather terse answer, I just answered “yes, and you?”

Suddenly her eyes welled up with tears and one slowly slid out of the inner corner of her eye and danced along the rim of her glasses. I didn’t say anything, but I was so sorry that I conjured up this ugly Christmas can of worms.

I looked ahead, as did she.

More moments passed.

I wished one of those pesky squirrels that perpetually waylay me on the path would come up and beg so I could stop to dispense peanuts and extricate myself from the conversation … and the awkward moment. But, those furry critters were nowhere to be found when I needed them.

To lighten the moment, I pointed at my bag of peanuts and said “I hope I don’t have to eat these myself since I usually have quite a following” … well, she laughed at that. Whew!

Then she told me how when she was a kid, the family was dirt poor and there were no gifts at Christmas. Her parents told the kids there was no Santa and not to be looking for him to visit their home on Christmas Eve. She came from a large family and the kids got a new coat or boots and that was it. There was no Christmas tree put up. She said she got a paper route and went and bought herself gifts – even going so far to wrap them up, hide them away and unwrap them on Christmas morning so she could tell her school chums what she got.

She told me she did that for years and then graduated from high school and got a job and moved out of the house and never went back … even for a visit – ever. And, she never celebrated Christmas again.

I asked if she lived around here and she said “I’m just in town visiting an old friend and I stopped to see this pretty Park and clear my head” and then she pointed to her car and said “I’ll be shoving off now”, and, though the seasonal greeting is “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to utter any of those phrases, so I just said “see ya” … and then she was gone.

You never know what people are thinking – she looked a little lost and lonely, just walking aimlessly along and not striding confidently along the path like the rest of the walkers, or me. I merely decided to be friendly.

Perhaps it was written in the stars that our paths should cross this morning.

I really prefer to walk solo and our encounter left me feeling uneasy.

I wished I’d just enjoyed that lonely train whistle in the still morn and remained content with my own company.

About lindasschaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, and this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for over three decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, although I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too.
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4 Responses to Be careful what you wish for.

  1. Not your typical cheery holiday story…which I like. I mean the reality is, a lot of people want to crawl in a hole and hide this time of year. So it’s good to illustrate that, despite how it might bring a reader down. To me the most interesting part of the story is what happened afterwards, once she left you. The part you left open to our imaginations. Did the woman go home and stick her head in the oven, Sylvia Path style, or did she go home and dwell in your friendly intercession? Did she find some solace in your own holiday goodwill? Did you bring some light into her otherwise dark Christmas memories? Or did she simply continue on her own path, desperatley looking for happiness in something? And what effect did her demeanor have on you? Maybe it opened a whole new door on your perception of the holidays, as well. If you had written a typical “Hallmark” angel from the heavens saves Christmas and Merry Christmas to all story, we wouldn’t have these things to ponder. And pondering is always good…especially this time of year.

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    • lindasschaub says:

      Thank you Brian. She was a real downer for sure and I’m not usually at a loss for words, but I really felt like I wanted to remove myself from the situation, and that a pat on her arm and saying “there, there” didn’t seem appropriate either. I even wondered if the old friend she mentioned was sick or had died – she looked so dejected looking. I’m not sure she looked much happier for my interjection into her life to be quite honest. This morning I kept a low profile and didn’t see her again. You sent the links to your two walking pieces you did awhile ago and how people interact when you meet them – first time, second time a few minutes later, etc. – there are all kinds of people that make up a world. Last week on the Park trail, I smiled and said good morning to a woman I’d never seen before and walked on; the next time around the loop she came over to me and clasped my arm and told me to “have a blessed weekend” … having always abided by the personal space rule, it took me aback. Clearly, I worked in the Big City for too long.

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  2. Marge Aubin says:

    Maybe that lady needed to talk to someone. I hope she liked your talk. Holidays can be very lonely for many people.

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  3. lindasschaub says:

    Yes, Marge – she put me in a kind of funk to be honest.

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