Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas--from Wii to We

Last weekend my husband and I joined the ranks of insane people who sit in camping chairs outside a retail store in the bitterly cold wee hours of pre-dawn hoping to get a Nintendo Wii system for our boys for Christmas. Yes. We did. Although we both wore thermal under layers of clothing, bone-chilling winter seeped through our coats and gloves and scarves. I pitied the lumps inside sleeping bags lying on concrete at the head of the line near the doorway, until I realized they were guaranteed a Wii. We were not.

We came prepared to pass the time with my laptop and a Christmas DVD, but instead, we found enjoyable conversation with the rag tag team around us, those who shared our mission. Even the DS Lite mom was welcome. (Actually, we were grateful because she wasn't trying to get a Wii system like the rest of us.) And the teen next to us, poor guy, got stuck joking with parents instead of the younger crowd closer to the door who'd spent the night. But the comraderie was infectious as the sky finally lightened.

At long last a Best Buy employee came out with a clipboard. After a cursory announcement, he handed out tickets for the 21 Wii game systems secured under lock and key inside the dark recesses of the store--and ran out of tickets just one lady away from Russ an I. Argh. Time for Plan B: a printout of a Wii console from the Internet with a note, "Your after-Christmas gift" along with a photo of us huddled in the line in front of Best Buy with a note, "We tried."

Although disappointed at our failure to snag a Wii before Christmas, our mission was made pleasant by friendly strangers. Author Charles Dickens wrote:

"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people . . . as if they really were fellow passengers . . . and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."

From Wii to "we." It's not about the gifts. It's about how we treat each other.

Merry Christmas, fellow passengers.