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“Nora! Nora!” She waved cheerily over the crowd. My friend Alice rushed over to me. “You look terrible,” she exclaimed.
“I’ve been here for three days,” I muttered. Here was the mall. I was trying to finish Christmas shopping.
She laughed. “You have not been here for three days! Surely you’ve gone home at night.”
“I didn’t want to lose my parking space. It’s only a mile from the door,” I told her. “Did you know that the pink soap in the bathroom makes a decent shampoo and if you turn the nozzle around the hand drier doubles as a hair drier? Also, the stores in the food court will let you eat leftovers for free after 11 p.m.”
She stared at me. “Let’s get you something hot to drink,” she said. She took me gently by the elbow and guided me to a nearby coffee shop.
“I can’t go in there!” I planted my feet and refused to move forward.
“There’s a line with more than seventeen people. Lines with more than seventeen people take eleven minutes and fourteen seconds. I don’t have that kind of time. I have to finish Christmas shopping. I have to finish Christmas shopping,” I shrieked!
The crowd around us turned to stare. I heard someone shout amen!
“If I help you finish shopping will you come in the coffee shop with me?” I started to shake my head no. “I’ll buy,” she pressed. I sighed. Coffee sounded really good. I let her lead me into the store.
The barista behind the counter had pink, green and orange hair. It clashed horribly with the Santa hat on her head and did little to detract from the quarter-sized disc in her earlobe.
“I’ll have a peppermint mocha,” I told her. “Can you add Schnapps?”
“We don’t have Schnapps,” she replied.
“What about Kahlua?” She shook her head. “Frangelica? Lysterine?!”
She leaned in close. “I can give you extra whipped cream and a candy cane.”
“Done!” I doubled fist pumped and shot a triumphant glare at the man behind me.
“How many gifts do you have left to buy,” Alice asked me.
“Eighty-seven,” I replied. “Don’t worry, I’ll show you the best benches to sleep on.”
Alice leaned over and desperately asked the barista, “Are you sure you don’t have any Schnapps?”
She sighed and handed Alice a candy cane. It was going to be a long day.
I hummed “Winter Wonderland” happily to myself and checked my appearance in the mirror: hat, scarf, mittens, jacket and jingle bell.
I was ready to go Christmas shopping!
The parking lot teemed with cars. Mall employees dressed as elves directed traffic around the Christmas tree lot that took up half the parking spaces.
Twenty minutes later, an elf that looked like a candidate for Disgruntled Employee of the Month directed me into an empty space.
Undaunted I hummed “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and strode bravely toward the mall entrance. I finished “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and started in on “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.”
I was on day eleven of “A Partridge in a Pear Tree” when I finally entered the building.
I walked through the door. A blast from the heater nearly blew me back outside. Ft. Lauderdale is cooler in July!
I glanced around me. Other shoppers stood just inside the doors removing their coats and hats. I tugged my hat off of my head and unwound my scarf. I crammed my mittens in my jacket pockets and slipped it off.
Now my hands were full.
A nearby stand sold reusable tote bags. I bought one and stashed my winter gear inside. Now I was ready to shop!
I joined the throngs of people and headed to the nearest department store.
“Feliz Navidad” blared through the mall’s P.A. I hummed along. Inside, the store’s P.A. roared “Sleigh Ride.” It clashed horribly with “Feliz Navidad.”
I tried to ignore it and looked at sweaters for my sister. I selected one for myself.
At the register, a display of animated snowmen played tambourines and sang “Frosty the Snowman.” A child pressed the buttons on each of them setting off a cacophony of tambourine bashing snowman disharmony.
I felt my eye twitch.
I left the department store and continued my shopping.
I passed a display of artificial Christmas trees. One of the trees was playing “Jingle Bells” valiantly competing with the mall’s P.A. that boomed “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
I screamed and fled for the door.
The next morning I rose fresh and ready to shop.
I replaced my jacket with a tank top and my hat with a headband.
Instead of a scarf, I put in earplugs.
Now I was ready to go Christmas shopping!
Recently a writing pal of mine, Brenda Moguez, asked me if I would answer some questions about my writing.
Find out how Brian feels about being the “star attraction” of my writing, my suggestions for aspiring humorists and how to make the mundane funny.
“I’m a jerk,” my husband Brian announced.
I patted his knee. “I know, honey,” I replied. “We’ve been married eleven years.”
“Ha, ha,” he retorted.
“What makes you a jerk this time,” I teased.
“It happened when I took Starla for her ‘proper walk,’” he referred to what we jokingly called walking the dog around our apartment complex as opposed to rushing her out to the grass for a quick potty break.
He continued, “A Porsche Cayenne pulled into the parking lot.” He made quotation symbols with his fingers around the word Porsche.
“Wait,” I interrupted, “I’m confused. It wasn’t a Porsche?”
“Technically,” he dragged the word out, “it was made by Porsche but as far as I’m concerned there’s no such thing as a Porsche SUV. I mean come on! Porsches are cars; sleek, sexy cars not sports utility vehicles!”
“I can see you’ve given this some thought,” I replied dryly.
“Anyway,” he continued, “this supposed Porsche pulled into the parking lot. The guy wanted to pull into a space right where Starla and I were walking so he paused to let us pass. We went into the grass and he pulled into the space.
“The guy got out of his car and he started to walk past us but then he held back and I thought he might be scared of the dog. I started to make her sit so he could walk by but then I thought, ‘Nah, that’s what you get for driving a supposed Porsche,’” he made the quotation marks with his fingers again.
I worried where this was going. Starla is a very friendly dog but she is young and still has a few things to learn about meeting people.
“She didn’t jump on him did she,” I asked with dread.
“No,” Brian replied. “Even though I thought the man was scared he went past her anyway and when he did he held his hand out to pet her. She, of course, loved it and flopped on the ground for him to pet her belly.”
“Sounds like our dog,” I interjected wryly.
“He turned out to be a really nice guy and I was thinking such bad things about him for driving a Cayenne,” Brian lamented.
“That was very judgmental of you,” I teased.
“It was,” he admitted.
“There’s an upside though,” I told him.
“What’s that,” he asked.
I grinned, “I have material for my column.”
He grinned back, “Now who’s the jerk?”
It was late November, six days before Thanksgiving. I rose early, laced up my running shoes and forayed to the grocery store to procure food for the holiday meal.
I thought arriving at the store before it opened would help me miss the worst of the crowds. The line out front dispelled my visions and gave dire forebodings of Black Friday.
When the glass doors whooshed open and myself and four hundred of my neighbors surged into the store.
The more desperate shoppers took a left and headed straight for the turkeys. My turkey was at home in the freezer. I was here only for fresh produce and pumpkin pie filling. I selected a cart, hoped in vain that it didn’t have a wobbly wheel and steered toward the green beans.
A woman banged her cart into mine so hard it shot out of my hands. I stared at her in disbelief. She laughed loudly into her cell phone and told the listener what happened. She didn’t even apologize!
I recovered my cart, selected my green beans and wheeled to the baking aisle.
I was weighing the merits of regular canned pumpkin versus organic canned pumpkin when I felt a sharp sudden pain in my right foot.
Unbelievable! The woman who rammed my cart earlier had now run over my foot! She was so engrossed in her phone conversation that she didn’t even notice.
In righteous indignation, I selected the organic pumpkin, slammed it in my cart and limped toward the check out.
The woman on her cell phone was in line in front of me.
I felt my eye twitch.
She prattled on into the phone and rudely ignored the cashier.
Finally, the malingered cashier scanned all her items. He looked to the woman for payment and she pulled out her checkbook!
I sucked air. Why, oh why, didn’t she start writing the check when she got in line?
“Hold on,” the woman said into her phone. She looked at the cashier and laughed, “What store am I in?” She gestured to her checkbook implying that she couldn’t begin writing her check until she knew who to make it out to.
I had a sudden vision of myself ramming her repeatedly with my cart. Through the mist of my fantasy, I realized someone was screaming. Then, I realized that someone was me.
“Get off the phone and check out! You are holding up all these people,” I screamed.
Someone in line behind me shouted, “Amen!”
“Who uses a checkbook anymore?” I was unrelenting. Shoppers applauded.
The woman frantically pulled out a debit card, paid and fled the store.
Next year, I’m avoiding this problem. I’m going to Thanksgiving at my sister’s.
This is a repost from last year but it was so well loved (and who wouldn’t love that face) that I’m sharing it again. Happy Thanksgiving!
November, it’s the time of year when we pause and give thanks.
I’ve seen many displays of true thanks in my life but none so poignant as the one I received from a ragged kitten one cold autumn evening. It was a remarkable event. Never before have I seen someone or something so utterly appreciative. Even more astounding, thanks isn’t usually a trait one associates with cats. Condescension is more in keeping with their reputations.
Seti, as he would later be named, was an ugly kitten besides; I already had three cats and a dog. I needed a kitten like I needed a new pair of shoes, which is to say I didn’t need a kitten; I wanted a kitten. When that hapless little face with it’s too big ears and giant nose stared up at me from the hay bales I knew I was taking him home.
“I’ll find a home for him,” I later explained to my husband Brian. “I couldn’t leave him in the barn. Something would have eaten him. Something has already tried to eat him,” I told him and it was true. The kitten had teeth marks on his hind leg.
A friend helped me catch the shy little black cat. The tiny thing fit easily inside my hand. I put him in a large, clear storage container and loaded him into my car. On the ride home, he sat still and quite, resigned to his fate. When we arrived at my house, I carried the storage bin to my office, shooed the adult pets out of the room and set the tiny kitten on the floor.
He took no notice of his surroundings. He did not play or investigate. He sat still and waited. His whole demeanor was of a cat who knew he was going to die. My heart broke for him.
I sat on the floor and placed a bowl of cat food between us. He sniffed it and was gripped with sudden understanding; the little cat knew he was safe. Though he was undoubtedly hungry, he walked around the food bowl, climbed into my lap, purred and kissed me extravagantly. He put his whole body into it rolling around on my leg and shaking with a deep, rumbling purr. He seemed far too small to have such big emotions. Though he must have been hungry, he didn’t eat until he had exhausted his appreciation.
Never before had I seen someone or something so grateful for a simple act of kindness. Perhaps it takes a simple creature to display an emotion so pure or perhaps it was his desperate situation that brought on such a genuine display. I scooped him up kissed him.
I heard my husband Brian sigh. “Yeah, you’re going to ‘find’ him a home alright,” he said.
He was right. I found the grateful little kitten a home: ours.