And So It Begins

Today marks the last day of “normal” at my job. Tomorrow we’ll all have off to celebrate Thanksgiving, and Friday morning, bright and early, it is “The Holidays” ™.

(It’s been hinting at The Holidays ™ for awhile. The store is already starting to show signs of impending Holiday-ness, with displays of gift books and stationery and gift packs all interspersed with little evergreen branches and red bows. But it’s not really been the real deal yet.)

Bright and early Friday morning, as customers line up outside the door at the ass crack of dawn for the Black Friday gift bags, the CD player will be filled with Christmas and Winter music (because I really don’t think “Here Comes Suzy Snowflake” has anything to do with Christmas at all).

As an employee, this means being driven crazy with the music on repeat – no matter how many CDs we have, the CD player will play through the same tracks over and over and over, no matter how many times you push “randomize discs”. It means frustrated, hurried customers – thankfully made somewhat less grumpy by the fact that we sell books that look new but are priced at half or less of their cover price, as they’re gently used. People are always happy when they can get their gifts for less money than they thought they’d have to spend, especially during the holidays, when they are usually stretching their budget and credit limit to its breaking point.

To be honest, working retail sucks most of the fun of the holidays for me. It’s hard to be forcefully pleasant at the best of times, but when things are as busy as they get around Christmas, it’s even more difficult, as you don’t get a break. There’s no let-down at all really.

It’s frustrating, because normally I like this time of year (as I like all seasonally oriented holidays) – I like the slow change to the dark days, and the turnaround at the Solstice. I like the beginning of winter, and celebrating the New Year with champagne and black eyed peas. I like evergreen trees and pretty white lights – the closest it gets to snow here. I like getting presents for people, mailing cookies to my friends, and sending cards to family.

I’m usually able to let go of the crazy competitiveness and “gotta-get-it-all” attitudes, and just enjoy having an excuse to send people mail and cookies.

But working retail just sucks all the energy I have, leaving just the dregs for doing those things I look forward to.

So this year, I started early.

While I can’t make cookies early, I got all the cards addressed and most of the shopping done. Having the house ready for Thanksgiving means it’ll be just maintenance to have it ready for houseguests at Christmas as well, and maybe a New Year’s shindig. Gifts are mostly clutter-free, useful, needed (or delicious) items that I’ve been thinking about for a good long time, knowing that I won’t have to run out and just get SOMETHING for the sake of having it to unwrap.

We’ll see if all that does anything for my energy levels as The Holidays ™ wear on, but I’m hoping being prepared will help keep me from getting too Grinchy.