Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Even the non-shopper has holiday roles


Both my loyal readers know that I ain’t much of a shopper. However, my every-morning ritual entails passing through Central Market around 6:15 a.m.-ish on my way to work. Yep, every morning that I’m fortunate enough to spend the day in town, I pick up an apple, orange, banana, a yogurt and a tidbit or two from the night shift staff who are finishing up their day. As those who do any shopping know, the background Muzak pumped through any given store is usually tuned into whatever season it happens to be.

So after running numerous hypotheses through my mind that somehow earned a master’s degree in communications I have come to conclude that Christmas Muzak is the siren’s song of the season that subliminally penetrates our minds… it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere we go… and no matter what kind of Grinch you are, I’ll put a bit of a wager on the table that even you have found yourself unconsciously humming along to a Christmas tune that strummed your heart string.

Yep, the sugarplums are warming up for their big dance, stockings are being hung with care, and we’re all preparing for that magical moment when St. Nicholas arrives … and, oh boy, here we go again.

Like I was saying earlier, I’m not much of a Christmas shopper; most years I just give money and let the others in my family do the shopping. Some folks think that’s kinda Grinchee of me, but I think it’s a good approach – they do the shopping and I help keep them out of debtors prison.

Allow me to qualify my remarks. As our house begins to swell from the season’s accoutrements and the presents/trinkets begin to literally stuff our house while everyone continues stretching their credit card limits, I usually sit back, take orders or remove enough debris so I can make it to my bathroom and bed.

Hang this, wrap that, move this so we can put the tree here, pick up this, and if you’re not going to help, get out of the way… I become a mere pawn in the process – some could say elf – as I await instructions on my next task. Thus I free myself from the hectic pace of shopping while standing by for orders, repairing wreckage, rearranging debris and such.

As winter begins to tighten its grip on our beloved prairie our days insidiously shorten to the point where we go to work in the dark and drive home in the dark. Snow covers the landscape and bone-chilling cold pushes us indoors for the duration of old man winter’s grip, then Christmas comes along to remind us that it won’t be too long before we come out of the cold and darkness and into spring (i.e., days get longer after 12/21/12) and the promise of spring is the one of the best Christmas presents I get every year.

If you were a stranger passing through here during this time of year it would be rather difficult not to become curious and wonder what’s up with all the lights and Muzak. Why are those folks putting trees inside their homes, what are all those decorations about… they’re everywhere, what’s up?

Well, we’re getting ready to celebrate a divine promise that basically says, “Behold I bring you great news of wonder filled joy… a child of the universe has arrived to tell you that the most important thing you can do while you’re here is to ‘love one another.'” Strive to give more than you receive and the world will be better off just because you were here.”

So here’s hoping that your efforts to make sure those around you have a Merry Christmas don’t melt your credit card and that you can handle whatever debris your generosity creates. And may your gifts leave those around you better off than you found them… Merry Christmas.