Monday, December 21, 2009

Growing Old Gracefully

As much as I have tried to avoid the bustling crowds this Christmas, I have found myself in crowds on several occasions. Usually when I am being pushed and bumped along in the midst of a calm crowd I just try and go with it. If I happen to have children in tow, I try to hang on to them and have them hang on to me and hope that none of us gets separated. Here in our neck of the woods we have a nightly event called "Snowflake Lane." It takes place on the main thoroughfare that runs through the small city in which I live. My kids love it and each year it has grown in musical variety and characters in costume. First the costumed characters, drummers on stilts, and snow princesses make their rounds through the crowd. Then the bands of drummers come out and take their places on miniature stages to belt out some holiday tunes. The whole event ends with a glorious fake snowfall.

This year, my oldest daughter was quite taken with the costumed Rudolf and she really wanted to have her picture taken with him. When we first saw Rudolf I did not have my camera ready and he was gone before I had a chance to get it out. We had staked a place near the front along the crowd-lined street when she spied Rudlolf again. We quickly darted through the few people behind us to snap a picture, leaving my younger two children in our "spot." This only took a moment, but somehow in this short span of time, the area between my daughter and I and my younger two children had some how filled up with people. I felt the panic of a crowd closing in between myself and my kids, they were near a rather busy street and even though they know how to stay safe, I still wanted to get back to them.

I politely began to edge my way through people. For those of you who don't know me, I will take this time to mention that I enjoy seeing live music. I always wear tennis shoes to shows and I can often get to the front of the floor in a general admission show by moving through the crowd in a manner that would not be considered "polite." So this polite edging was quite a feat for me, I was trying to set a good example. Well, the first somewhat elderly gentleman was having none of that. He wasn't going to move. Fortunately, he was rather large and my daughter and I squeezed by him with some ease. Then there was the woman in front of me, probably in her early sixties, and I said quite politely three times, "excuse me" and she just stood there in front of me refusing to move. We really had no choice, I had to move around her and as I did she exclaimed, "What do you think you are doing!" "Well, uh, I don't know trying to get to my kids," I said with a sarcastic smile. I wanted to say more, but decided to drop it.

This is something that I have noticed of late, women in a certain age group who seem to feel that politeness and public consideration of others is no longer something that they need to do. I have a few theories about why this is so floating around in the old brain pan, but the one that makes the most sense to me is that many women spend too much of their lives giving to others and not enough giving to themselves. By the time they reach late middle age/early old age, they have had it and they are going to look out for number one the rest of you be damned. Maybe other people don't notice this, but I have and I know why, it is because I do not want to be like that. So from this day forth, I am going to practice being polite and I am going to remember to take good care of myself so that I have the emotional bandwidth to carry out this resolution.


Kristin Rae said...

Interesting observation! True, this time of year is bustling with shoppers down to the wire for gift-buying (so glad I'm done). The claws of consumerism have been sharpened!

Sue in Seattle said...

Ugh. I so know what you mean. They don't call it the "Me" generation for nothing. Sorry if that's harsh, but I just have a hard time understanding it myself. I work with so many women and men in their 80's and 90's who would still give you the shirt off their backs without blinking. Anyway, I really liked your blog so I set up on of my own (copy cat I know). Maybe it will be a good focus for writing ;)

creative title, eh? I decided not to agonize over it and just pick the first thing that popped into my head. I suppose you can always change it later?

Anyway, merry merry. See you in 2010!

Megs said...

i resolve this too Karen!
we'll grow old graciously together, my dear friend!
how very scary to be separated from your children in a crowd - that nearly happened to us a few times yesterday in Melbourne - what is a good plan to teach them if they do get seriously lost?
love you
ps the word verification is nurds!!!!