Nostalgia in a Pickle Jar

I spent Christmas along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, visiting my sis and her family and soaking up some warmer weather (though they, too, had some nights below freezing!)

When you’re away from home base for several days, you find yourself attending a different church, patronizing different restaurants and stores, and running into different people than usual.

I want to recapture some of those experiences here.

One of the churches I attended has a custom — after the adults’ collection plate has been passed — of inviting the children to come forward and drop their donations into a huge glass pickle jar to be given to charity.

Because of the holidays, the kids were dressed to the nines. Fancy crinoline dresses, little Christmas vests, bows in hair, khaki trousers, patent Mary Janes.

They looked darling.

They also seemed a bit hesitant about dropping their coins and bills into the jar (fortunately, no one reached back in to retrieve their donation!)

Anyway, one little girl with dark curls, a satin-looking red dress, and matching red shoes was the last to give. When she finished, she balked at leaving the altar, holding her arms up until daddy rescued her and carried her back to the pew.

The whole church giggled.

Grandparents and those of us with older kids reminisced over days gone by; parents of younger kids were all-too-familiar with the scene.

It brought to mind something My Favorite Domer said recently about how Christmas “just isn’t as much fun” as it was when he was little.

No toys, not as many presents, nothing from Santa.

Well, duh!

Part of me wanted to argue that his “toys” now are much more expensive than when he was little and to snidely tell him, “Welcome to the adult world,” but I stopped myself.

What if he’s right?

Does growing up have to make us jaded? Can’t we find a way to approach the holidays with childlike wonder, to enjoy and fully live in the present without sacrificing memories of the past?

Ring, ring!

I have a love-hate relationship with cell phones.

I love them because:

  • They’re convenient. Pop one in your purse or pocket, and you’ll never miss that important call.
  • They’re small. Ditto, above. Remember land-lines? Even the cordless kind was bulky.
  • They’re versatile. Talk, text, take pictures or video, listen to music. Like having an all-purpose fun machine!

I hate them because they make you so available.

They ring; you answer. You stop what you’re doing, and you answer.

Why is that? Most cell phones come equipped with voice messaging. Why won’t we use it?

If it’s an emergency, of course we need to be notified. But chances are, it’s not.

Chances are, it’s just hubby wanting to know which brand of green beans to buy. Or a friend wanting your recipe for coleslaw. Or one of the kids reminding you of soccer practice. Or some such.

Nothing immediate there, right?

Still, we’re expected to be Johnny-on-the-Spot with our “Hello.”

Which wouldn’t be so bad if the call didn’t come in at an inconvenient time. Or place.

Take yesterday morning, for example. I was in WalMart checking out when my cell phone rang. Looking behind me, I saw four angry customers in line and a clerk waiting for my money.

What to do?

Risk angering those strangers further, or hope my caller would understand my brusqueness?

Choices, choices.

And no easy answers.

I’m sure somebody somewhere has come up with a list of do’s and don’t’s regarding cell phone niceties, but nobody seems to be aware of it.

People tell what should be the most private of things into cell phones — at restaurants, shopping malls, airports. They give their entire schedules, bank account numbers,  rendezvous locations. They speak of their kids’ failures, their spouse’s quirks, their own sexual escapades.

All for everyone to overhear.

Inadvertently, or not.

Anyway, I opted for brusqueness. I explained why I couldn’t talk and told my caller I’d return the call shortly.

Simple solution.

Why then did my clerk look so stunned and give me a hearty “Thank you!”?

Wouldn’t anybody in my position do the same?

I guess not. My clerk said most people simply chat away, oblivious to others’ impatience.

I think that’s pretty rude. What do you think?