As we come to my favourite time of the year, people often sigh or roll their eyes at my enthusiasm for the ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ (I hope you sung that in your head too).
But let me tell you, I wasn’t always merry about it. I used to work in retail. Meaning longer hours, more work, abusive customers wanting their share of the sales, cleaning up more messes, and usually abuse from my superiors for even daring to ask for a day off around holiday season.
I’ve had to berate people for queue jumping (I got an applause from other customers for that), clean up small children’s wee and vomit, fill shelves at 5am, and had my hands bleed from being stung by prawn heads after the hundredth kg pierced my skin – while working in a deli, all in the happy month of December.
Then, once we’d battled through Christmas, it came to Boxing Day sales, and post-Christmas gift returns. I’d be battling with a Christmas hangover, in the store at 9am on Boxing Day, with 30 people lined up looking for refunds on gifts – without a receipt of course.
“What do you mean I can’t get my money back?” They’d spit at me evilly when I explained the return-policy about their unwanted gift.
“Well, without a receipt, I can’t give you a refund.” I’d mildly explain, loathe that my family would be floating about in a pool (Aussie Christmas) with a cocktail but I was here til close of business, being shouted at about misleading advertisements.
Unwanted gifts would be hurled at me and my 16-year-old staff, we’d be shouted at, about policy made in head office, and terror unleashed on staff for not having enough stock to supply a sale.
Five years, I battled with this – and developed a distain for the ‘holiday season’. I was told I ‘should count myself lucky’ I’d even get Christmas Day off some years, and of course I couldn’t have Christmas Eve off to celebrate European tradition with my family.
So when I joined the white collar world, imagine my surprise and delight, when things would slow down for the Christmas period.
“Are you going to have any time off during Christmas?” I’d be asked, pleasantly. Apparently that’s okay!
In addition to workplace happiness, I am lucky enough to have my parents come and visit me each year, in the UAE for Christmas. This is a gift for me – as I’m not always financially able to trip home during the year.
Now, though I’m not religious, I associate this time with spending time with my family, happily singing my favourite Michael Buble carol and savouring special little moments.
We brunch, we laugh, sometimes we go to Ski Dubai, and we spend time together. My festive joy is my way of showing how excited I am that my parents are coming, and how much I enjoy it.
So this Christmas, enjoy a little time with your loved ones, and if you’re lucky enough to have some time off, pay it forward by being extra nice to the poor retail assistants, because it’s not quite so merry, for them.
And don’t mind me singing Christmas carols in November – I’m just counting the days til my Mum and Dad arrive.