I’m glad the holidays are over. Well, at least Thanksgiving is behind us. As much as this time of year brings people together, if we’re not careful it can also tear us apart. Sidebar comments, innocent gestures and even random acts of kindness are sometimes taken the wrong way – perception is reality.
I remember working at a casino during the holiday season and one night I told a player, who happened to be on the way out, to drive safe. It had been snowing all day and it hadn’t let up. No harm – no foul, right? No chance. I obviously hit a sore spot, because this maniac circles around screaming:
Maniac: (Angrily) “What? Why did you say that?!”
Me: (Confused) “Say what? Drive Safe?”
Maniac: (Angrily) “Yeah!”
Me: (Matter of fact) “Because it’s snowing pretty hard and it has been all day.”
Maniac: (Apologetic) “Oh…thanks!”
Me: (To myself) “Geez! It can’t be that serious…where in the hell did you say you were going? Damn!”
A few kind words were taken the wrong way. Over the years after similar reenactments, I never said them again; correction…I never said them again to strangers or random everyday acquaintances.
Since then, I have made a conscious effort to limit certain phrases to family and friends. Although I’m concerned for many, I only verbally request that my love ones drive safe and defensively, while keeping an eye out for maniacs.
Like I was saying, the holiday season has the power to bring us together, but we must be cognizant that with great power, comes great responsibility and these “festive gatherings” also contain the powers necessary to pull us apart.
A few years ago, my son made the decision to dread his hair, not because he was embracing the Rastafarian movement or other extracurriculars, for him, more or less; it is a matter of self-expression and maybe even a fashion statement. Look around many athletes, entertainers choose to wear their crowning glory in dreadlocks.
Thanksgiving he found himself in the hot seat
explaining and defending his choice to his 72-year-old grandmother. Impossible… She’s simply not having it. Although my parents never encouraged self-expression, I never thought my mother would be the one to blurt the most shocking phrase, I have heard to date, at the holiday table.
Granny: (Irritated) “You have A LOT of hair! Is that a wig?”
Grandson: (Light) “No” (ha ha ha)
Granny: (Angrily) “Do you court boys?!”
Grandson: (Confused) “What?”
Me: (Sternly) “Are you asking him if he’s gay?”
Imagine that…hair determines sexual orientation. It can’t be that serious.
While she claims she meant no harm, me and mine found the comment rude and crass. That phrase alone sparked a 30 minute in-depth conversation on the way home which left me labeling her and her comments as ignorant, insensitive and reckless.
I welcome anyone to explain how this brings a family closer.
Here’s another example of the evil power of the holiday season. I’m standing in the checkout line at the grocery store minding my own bees-wax, just me and my 4 items; when an elderly lady ahead of me, who was unloading a cart full of crap, decided to pay me a kind gesture:
Her: (Rushed) “You can go ahead of me”
Me: (Pleasantly shocked) “Really? Are you sure?”
Her: (Irritatedly joking) “Yeah…I don’t want to fight!”
Me: (Confused) “No…No fight.”
Me: (To myself) “Is she for real? Butter, eggs, potato chips…it can’t be that serious! But, it is the holidays…”
I’m Just Sayin’…(Damn!)