Two nights ago, the guy sitting across from me on the ride home smiled and said just that. He wasn't a random guy touretting on me or anything, just someone I see often enough to make small talk with.
I have something for you. As I sat there with a wan smile threatening to slide off my face, he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a little cellophane Christmas bag. I thought you might like this he said, and handed it over.
Now, because everyone has such awful taste, I’m not always the best judge of whether someone is being sincere with a gift or not. I can usually manage to not laugh in their faces though and this is something I'm proud of because it's really really hard.
Open it! he urged. As I freed it from it’s tiny prison, I was relieved to hear him say Isn’t it hideous? I won it at a Christmas lunch thing at work. What am I supposed to do with something like that? I don’t celebrate Christmas, I'm Jewish for God's sake.
I told him it didn't have to be specifically tied to Christmas so much as winter but he insisted I take it home. I told him I would be checking with my priest on the policy about accepting Christmas gifts from Jewish people and get back to him.
As you can see, it has a lovely red glow. It takes batteries to perform this magic. What you cannot see is how absolutely cheap and horrid it really is up close. Shortly after this photo was taken, something very bad may have happened to it.
Last night, I saw my benefactor on the train again and he asked So how did things go with that angel?
Angel? I asked.
Yeah, you know the plastic angel I gave you?
I told him he had bigger problems than I thought if he figured old Frosty for an angel. It was a snowman I told him.
No, was it?
Yes, it was.
Well, how am I supposed to know all this stuff? I don't celebrate Christmas.
I let him know that snowmen are generally considered secular. Then I told him I would be switching cars tomorrow night. I'm afraid some spiritual journeys are meant to be taken alone.
When I'm sitting across from someone who I might best describe as a train friend, the last thing I want to hear is a clanging statement like ‘I have something for you’.