O. M. G. !
Beware! Christmas aliens lurk in malls, mega-stores and parking lots.
Unlike gargantuan monsters on big and small screens who spit purple slime, these unearthly creatures can enter a Walmart without so much as a raised eyebrow.
Like the rest of the local gift-seeking population, they are tall, short, and various shapes, colors and sizes. They may wear jeans and hoodies or polyester pantsuits with Christmas teddy bears pinned to lapels.
Their appearance does not betray their presence. Instead, be on the lookout for suspicious shopping behaviors.
These extraterrestrials don’t aim laser cannons at shopping districts or vaporize Santa and his elves at tree lightings. Still, they could destroy holiday traditions cherished by our culture for decades.
- Christmas aliens are betrayed by their driving behavior. They stop at stoplights. Yes, really. Some even halt at stop signs. A few actually allow drivers trapped in wrong lanes to go first.
- Their parking lot behavior reveals even more sinister intentions. Instead of charging across the lot in a diagonal path, they drive in designated lanes.
- Despite plentiful targets at crosswalks, they do not accelerate. What kind of Christmas spirit is that?
- Some aliens skip convenient parking spaces, keeping them available for the elderly and expectant mothers.
- Having corralled not one, but two truant shopping carts, they may even look The Salvation Army bell ringer in the eye as they enter.
What would happen if the entire population exhibited similar dangerous behavior?
- They break the First Commandment of Christmas Shopping: Instead of inflicting shopping trips on spouses and children as a punishment, they try to make them fun.
- They also refrain from mugging store clerks when a size large or Baby Know-It-All can’t be found.
- They retrieve items from top shelves for the vertically challenged.
- They sing along with background Christmas Muzak. On key.
- They procure private places for cell phone discussions about purchasing the jingle-bell boxer shorts.
- They may even toss used paper towels into the restroom trash can instead of onto the floor.
- At checkout, they say please and thank you. And find they purchased more for others than themselves.
All these are strong indications that aliens have mounted a major assault on Christmas shopping traditions we hold so dear.
Worse yet, they enact these with a smile.
Everyone knows Christmas shopping and giving have nothing to do with smiling. After all, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. God knows, He never smiled while lying in the manger. When He healed a dying little girl. Or, watched a lame grandpa dance without his crutch.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you encountered a Christmas alien lately?
Oh, my God, how wonderful that Jesus loved people, and they loved Him. He was and is a party Person. OMG, I’m glad, because we’re going to celebrate His birthday at four — count them, four — different parties this week alone!
Sure, I’ve spelled my husband en route to nearby campgrounds. When straight roads send him to Lullaby Land, I save our lives by driving short stretches on state highways.
But brave roaring, dragon-like semis on interstates? Motorcycles whipping in and out of lanes at Star Wars speeds? Hans Solo, I’m not.
My husband installed extended mirrors. However, they warn that reflected objects are closer than they appear.
That’s nice. Even humble, and I admire humility. But sorry, nice mirrors, when changing lanes, I want accuracy. And if up-close-and-personal encounters with construction barrels throw you off, I really don’t need views up my nostrils.
Especially when parking. We often need to stop for gas, food, and/or restrooms. Those paltry reasons pale, however, as we focus on more profound questions: Will we find a place to park the camper? Afterward, can we get out?
Once, as I contorted truck and camper in my 100th effort to leave a convenience store, Hubby lost all hope. “Will we spend the rest of our lives behind Kwickie Mart?”
Not exactly the retirement we’d envisioned.
I tried to console him: “Living on Little Debbie® cakes and beef jerky wouldn’t be so bad.”
My attempts scared traffic to a dead stop. A hundred yards away.
Thus, we finally left Kwickie Mart.
Hauling a camper never bores us. Once, while I was driving down South, purple-cloud giants charged us. They spit lightning and smothered us with avalanches of rain that drowned car taillights ahead. If I had risked pulling over, my flashers would have disappeared, blown out like candles.
Did I slow down? Not much. Storm or no storm, drivers who never drive less than 85 mph — on roads, shoulders and in parking lots — can be found everywhere. Even in easygoing Mississippi.
Hubby’s, already flourishing, set new records.
Jesus took the wheel.
Afterward, when He had guided us to sunshine, Hubby tried to talk Jesus into taking all my shifts.
He smiled and said, no, we needed to grow in faith. Together.
Though Hubby still had theological doubts about Kwickie Mart experiences, and I struggled with mirror-nostril crises, we indeed have learned to depend on Jesus and each other. With His help, we and our 2,000-pound shadow return home, safe and sound.
We will hit the interstate again soon.
It’s only fair I give other drivers advance warning: Look out, I’ll be pulling a camper!
Prepare to grow in faith.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever pulled a camper? Driven an RV?
Then, in December, I stumble through Walmart’s doors at 10:30 p.m. to escape lines. I won’t recall how I got there or that I parked my car at Lowe’s. But I’ll have plenty of time to search for it.
Many Americans, like me, despise standing in line — strange, as we spend our lives queuing up. During preschool years, we line up to bawl on Santa Claus’s lap. As elementary children, we form lines to go outside and inside. We broaden our horizons as adults, waiting in wedding reception and funeral home lines, queues at hotel desks and ballparks.
Even at church, we fear the potluck will run out of KFC before we reach the front. And will the sins of those at the head of confession lines rank higher than ours?
At best, we grit and bear it. At worst, we yak on phones.
Interestingly, people who declare there is no right or wrong morph into Moses when someone crosses a certain line: Thou Shalt Not Cut In. Businessmen, Harley riders and little old ladies all want to stone the criminal with Old Testament zeal.
Yet neither God nor OSHA has specified that we stand in lines. Why do this? Especially since we should be first. Always.
Part of the answer lies in our culture. Americans stand in line for the same reason we drive on the right, not the left; eat Kellogg’s Raisin Bran®, not blood pudding, for breakfast; and wear clothing in public — most of the time. It’s what we do.
But I like to think there are better reasons.
Bottom line, standing in line means we put others first.
Years ago, my husband and I entered a McDonald’s in Madrid, Spain. No lines formed at counters. Instead, customers rammed each other like football linemen. Hubby and I waited in vain for game’s end. Eventually, our hungry stomachs won. Readying elbows, we dove into the pack.
If only my elementary principal, Mrs. Talley, had arrived to tame us. If the ghost of my childhood Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Mamie Skeet — wearing her usual weird hat — had admonished us with Jesus’ Golden Rule, we might not have sold slivers of our souls for Big Macs.
Now I appreciate more than ever you who keep your elbows to yourself and wait patiently in line. And this December, if we allow others to go first, we will light up Christmas lines like the natal Star.
Mrs. Talley and Mrs. Skeet would be proud of us.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What will you do while waiting in line this Christmas?
This past weekend, when our two-almost-three-year-old grandson was staying with us, an odd November tornado also dropped by our area for a visit.
Thankfully, our little guy slept through much of the storm, then seemed to enjoy the novelty of the accompanying power outage. We cuddled and read stories by the light of a camping lantern and flashlights and sang songs about the wise man who built his house upon a rock.
We comforted him when the thunder and lightning and wind grew too scary. But the scenario reminded me of years ago when my little ones — and a God surprise — comforted me.
Purple-blue clouds raged and roiled in the yellowish sky. Enormous trucks roared around us on the interstate through curtains of blinding rain, shaking my little car like a wet terrier. Tornado warnings crackled on the radio. But my preschooler played contentedly with her Barbie® Dolls in the backseat. My two-year-old munched the crackers I’d given him.
How I envied their serene trust in me! If only I possessed such faith.
“Let’s pray Jesus will take care of us!” I said in the bright mommy-tone I always use when all is lost.
They bowed their heads and folded chubby hands. Their sweet prayer calmed my terrors.
“Look!” I cried.
An exit loomed ahead. We would leave this nightmare and seek shelter!
Even as I pulled into a truck stop and parked, the rain began to diminish.
I turned to my children, almost crying with joy. “Jesus is with us!”
“’Course He is.” The two-year-old stared at me. “I see Him.”
“No, honey,” I patted his little hand. “We can’t see Jesus. But He’s with us all the time.”
My toddler looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Jesus is right there, Mommy!”
My stomach, which had quieted, lurched anew. “Wh-where?” The hair on my neck prickled. “Where’s Jesus?”
He pointed an indignant finger. “There!”
Slowly I turned around, quaking.
On a nearby semitrailer, a huge colorful mural of the smiling Savior with wide-open arms offered us a hug.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you remember when children taught you a thing or two?