Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting Up The Giving Spirit

Part of trying is getting up the gumption to give, even when you feel sour.

The transition to spring is always a challenge. Winter is low pressure, making the best of a bad situation. There are a few fun things to do, like ice skating or skiing, but the possibilities are not abundant. It is easy to sleep in, while away the morning hours, let the kids watch TV or play computer, bake, and not feel the guilt. When the weather begins to warm, the sun to shine, I watch the clock anxiously as I try to get everything done around the house, the laundry folded and the dishes put away. We must get outside, I think. Pressure mounts.

And what to wear? I have yet to clean out my closets or the kids', to buy new clothes, new shoes for the season ahead. And anyway the varying temperature outside ensures whatever I put on will be wrong in an hour. I changed three times one day last week, from capri pants and sandals and a leather jacket to jeans and boots and my winter coat then settled on jeans with boots and a leather jacket. Aaaargh! I am from Arizona. We never had spring. I will never cotton to it. When it's time for tank tops, tell me, I think.

I know that other people feel grumpy too but can't put their finger on why. I name my reasons and they sometimes relate, sometimes not. Maybe those are not their issues. Transitions are always hard and not always easy to see. We are, besides the weather change, in a huge transition. Even if things haven't changed materially for people, they have, because they might. It's a vague looming threat hanging over everyone with the potential to derail long-made plans and tear dreams asunder, even the conservative ones built on basic, realistic expectations let alone the big ones. It's all up for grabs. Everyone has their own or others' stories to share of pay cuts, terminations, tightening of belts. It is why I started giving out the gold stars.

Some days, though, it is hard to get up the gumption. Even knowing what I know, that the people who think I'm crazy still want one, it is hard to be in a bad mood and hand out a silly glittery star to people with the feeling necessary to make it worthwhile. But I make myself. It's just like getting out of bed when you feel your entire being glued to the sheets. You just do it. Because you have to.

The other day, the sweet friendly man behind the meat counter at my local market did a little dance when I gave him his big gold star. He sang a song, a kids' rendition of "Nanny, nanny boo boo..." to his co-workers. "Iiiiii gotttt a sttttttar," he mocked, placing it squarely on his baseball cap. I offered them stars too, but by then it was too late. He alone owned the star for that area.

I saw the butcher yesterday, he popped in to a cafe where I was to say hi and remind me to bring in my knives so he could sharpen them as he promised. His gold star shone brightly on his cap.

"You're still wearing your star," I said, "good for you!"

"Oh yeah," he said, "It fell off three times but I put it back." With a wave and a big smile he was gone. As I thought of him, I vowed to give out more stars despite my silly spring blues.

I brought them to a party in the afternoon, though I didn't quite have it in me to break them out. In conversations where I had to come up with what I "do", I told a few people about my project. I didn't even mention I had any with me. But before I left, one girl was adamant: "I need a gold star," she said. "I'm going on a blind date, and I need it..."

I went to my purse and took out the sheet of stars. I gave her a big one, 'cause blind dates are hard, and proceeded to place smaller ones on everyone else. People seemed pleased rather than put off. The girl going on a date she was already worried would be bad took the host's star as well and added it to her own on her chest. "He doesn't need it," she said. "I do." I hope it helped!!!

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