We are seeing the first Christmas shoppers at work. These include one of my favorite customers, who came in and bought Christmas Jingo (like bingo, but more educational) after carefully checking to make sure it had no religious elements. He also bought Hanukkah Jingo, without subjecting it to the same scrutiny.

Early holiday shoppers are wise. After years of this, I can tell you that October shoppers are happy and cheerful, November shoppers are still usually enjoying themselves, and December shoppers are frequently stressed and miserable. Since we are just right at the beginning of the whole Christmas shopping thing, I figure we have plenty of time to come to some agreements. Here is my proposed treaty:

  • People can refuse to celebrate Christmas either on the grounds that they are not Christian or on the grounds that they are Christians and Christmas is pagan and/or has become idolatrous. However, nobody gets to be offended by the mere fact that someone else is celebrating a holiday they choose not to observe. This includes getting miffed when people say “Merry Christmas.”  This applies equally to all holidays, of course, but I never see people throwing hissy fits over random “Happy Chanukah” wishes.
  • People can celebrate Christmas without any religious content if they feel like it. Nobody gets to upbraid strangers for doing so. Equally, nobody gets to object to recognition that Christmas is a religious holiday. This is simply a fact, and there’s no point in being offended by facts.
  • When stores have Christmas decorations and Christmas music before Hallowe’en, or have “Happy Holidays” and Santa Claus and behave as though “Christmas” were a dirty word, you can bet that the workers you actually see in the store are not the ones who decided to do that. Refusing to shop at stores that do this is completely acceptable, but lecturing the staff is not.

This refers only to public undertakings, and in fact I am thinking specifically of shopping. Last year there was a lot of bad behavior around the cash registers, and I see no reason to repeat that. All of the topics listed above make great things to debate over the Thanksgiving dinner, so save it for private occasions. Thank you.

pre-frost Yesterday after work I dragged my protesting sons out to the garden to pick the last stuff before the predicted frost. It doesn’t look very frosty out there this morning, frankly, so we may have been precipitate, but that’s okay.

We have a final bouquet of roses and a last dish full of peppers and green tomatoes. I will be making salsa with store-bought tomatoes tomorrow.

I am also planning to make chow-chow. I have not previously made it with green tomatoes, but Blessing was telling me yesterday about green tomato relish, and my check of online recipes suggests that it is very similar.

We were doing inventory. I cannot do inventory for very long without getting spasms in the muscles in my back from sheer boredom, but I can enjoy it for a while, so when I have time, I pitch in and help. Blessing doesn’t really like me to do this. She doesn’t want to give up any of the counting. However, she doesn’t know where anything is, and I know where pretty much everything is, so when she is counting, we have conversations like this:

“Gazillion Bubbles?”
“North wall, second shelf at the end, above Erector.”
“Addition Keyboard?”
“Math section, east wall, above the Clever Catch balls.”

I don’t mind that either. In fact, I am extraordinarily grateful to her for fixing the inventory, which has gotten so far off that it is now a work of fiction, and for not wanting to share the counting. But this interaction gave us an opportunity to discuss how I could use up my green tomatoes, since the frost meant  I couldn’t leave them to ripen.

We discussed green tomato mincemeat and discovered that Blessing had never had mince pie. Then we discussed green tomato relish and it was revealed that I had never eaten at The Catfish Hole. A customer sang out, “I’m laughing at you two. You’ve never eaten catfish and she’s never eaten mince pie.” She shook her head and walked out of the store. She seemed to feel that we were more to be pitied than censured, but she still didn’t want to shop with a couple of ignorant women like us.

ripbuttonBlessing also reorganized my books.

I keep a large stack of books on hand at work. There are my Christmas present books, of course, and then I also have to have a good stock of novels so I don’t run out. I have a special shelf. The books were sorted so that one pile had the presents in it and the other had the novels, with the creepy books on top so I could easily buy them for the Autumn Reading Challenge.

She rearranged them according to size.

“Don’t mind me,” she said, “I have issues.”

Fortunately, I have no issues relating to people’s fooling around with my stack of books, so it was okay.