At the store yesterday, I spent much of the time commiserating with people who had ordered things which were not in fact going to arrive in time for Christmas. You do not, in these cases, want to be lacking in sympathy when you have to tell the people that the item they want is sold out. At the same time, you do want them to consider that if they had just come in and bought it from our store in the first place, it would be under their tree right now. Maybe not. After all, the fact that it is sold out suggests that there weren’t enough to go around in the first place.

This is also the time of year when people’s credit cards are declined. A lot. And the time when people call up asking for things like special Barbie items and gaming systems, which they know right off that we will not carry. They are desperate. They are going to call grocery stores next.12 And the time when people bicker throughout the store. “It doesn’t have to be about money!” “I’m just saying we could do better on price.” “Not now, you couldn’t, since you waited so long.” And, “Why was the card declined?” “I don’t know. There’s no reason for it.” Insert accusing glance at me here, as though it were somehow my fault. “Try it again.”

Basically, it is a mistake to wait this long to shop for Christmas. However, if you are determined to do that, it seems to be a mistake to go with your spouse. It leads to quarrels. This point in the season is when men should go by themselves (men rather than women because, statistically speaking, men are better at accepting the best of available options in stores), announce the recipient’s age, and cheerfully take whetever the workers thrust into their hands.

Then I came home, jubilant at the thought of three days off to celebrate the holiday. #2 daughter called to report a bit of a glitch that may keep her from getting here, which has made me feel a little less festive, but I did get quite a bit of knitting done on #2 son’s sweater. In fact, I stayed up till midnight with #1 daughter, watching “Holiday Inn” and eating gumdrops as well as knitting, and am feeling slightly sick this morning as a consequence. But that is a finished front and back and a started sleeve you see over there in the picture.

I just got a call saying that the store dog has died.

I have for you today a beautiful Irish carol, “Don Oiche Ud ImBeithil.” That link will ask you to register, but you will hear the music without doing so if you give it a minute. Here are the words in English and in Gaelic, with a midi file so you can learn the tune. Here is the sheet music. This song was recorded recently by Celtic Woman, so it is now much more available than it used to be, and you can find it on YouTube and so forth. It is good for singing or listening to quietly when things are not as pleasant and peaceful as they ought to be, when things are too festive and you need some calm, and even when things are a bit sad. Bring out your fiddle, harp, and tin whistle for this one.

The plan for today is church, followed by determined knitting in hopes of finishing the sweater by tomorrow night, interspersed with candy making, as though there were any need for more sugar around here, followed by either joyful celebration when #2 daughter arrives, or brave Moving On if she doesn’t, which will of course be combined with Mad Rearranging of the music for which she is scheduled. Not to mention the present she was bringing down for me to give to someone whom I will not mention.