I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).
So, I have to admit something to you – I didn’t bake anything this time.
I also may not be funny this time. (This is me assuming, probably incorrectly, that I am funny other times.)
But, just so we are clear, this will not be a typical “Sometimes I Bake Mistakes” post. There will be no talk of pastry or custard. There will be no gifs. (Okay, there might still be some gifs. I sort of have a gif problem.)
But anyway, this time I’m not talking about baking. I’m talking about Christmas and what it means to me. Or, more accurately, what I want it to mean.
I’m not going to get religious here. I’m not going to talk about mangers and wise men.
Instead, I’m just going to talk about one nice man who happened to be a pharmacy cashier I met more than two years ago. In the summer. In the middle of what was, at that point, the worst time of my life.
Admittedly, that doesn’t seem to have much to do with Christmas, but for some reason, my mind keeps going back to that cashier this holiday season.
My brain is weird, I know. But I swear, this will connect to Christmas. It connects to every Christmas. It connects to every day, really.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, let’s go back to August 2015 when, during one month, I spent more time in doctors’ offices than I had at any other time in my life combined. That’s because, at the time, I had about a half dozen diagnosed, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed health problems of both the mental and physical variety.
I sort of lose track of all of them now because it was all very confusing and because, thankfully, the human mind has a handy way of repressing stuff it doesn’t want to remember.
Anyway, suffice it to say, it was a rough time. I was in so much pain and I was so scared and depressed because of that pain, that I rarely left the house.
For an entire month of my life, I only left the house to go to doctors’ appointments, physical therapy appointments, therapy appointments or the pharmacy.
Aside from interactions with my husband and very close family and friends, I really only talked to health professionals who I was paying to tell me what was wrong with me, or in some cases, paying to say that they had no idea what was wrong with me.
These were the only people I talked to.
Them, and the drug store cashier. I saw him at least twice a week.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked in retail. I know that working in a store under glaring fluorescent lights surrounded by cranky customers and screeching toddlers did not bring out the best in me.
It did not make me want to be nice. It did not make me want to smile.
I firmly believed that if Dante were alive today, a big box store would surely be one of his circles of hell. So, yeah, you understand what my mentality was when I was a cashier.
The cashier at the drug store though, he went a different way.
And still, all of these years later, when I’m thankfully in a much better place, I remember him. I remember him because he was kind. He was kind to me when I was at the worst point in my life. He was kind to me when it mattered most.
People don’t forget that.
When you’re depressed, truly depressed like I was, moments like this stand out. They shine so much brighter than they would during other, happier times. That’s because they’re such a startling departure from your usual darkness.
They’re like a fiery comet shooting through a dark night. You can’t miss them, and you don’t forget them.
They matter so much, and yet, they’re so easy to give.
At Christmas, people spend so much time worrying about what to give people. They break their budgets and scour stores or the internet for the perfect gift.
But we don’t need to make it that hard on ourselves, not really.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good present as much as the next gal, and there’s something to be said for the thoughtfulness that comes from a well-considered gift. But we can give each other better gifts than that, for free. Every day.
We just have to make like that drug store cashier, and be kind. Even when we’re stressed. Even when we’re tired. Even when we’re not really in the mood.
Because, these are the gifts that people truly remember. All people really remember in the end is how you treated them. The only thing that really matters to people is how you make them feel.
And we can always help each other feel better.
We just have to do simple, tiny things to show people we care. Even if we don’t know them that well. Even if they’re complete strangers.
We can hold the door open for that person behind us. We can pay for the next car in the drive-through. We can let that car into our lane even though, yeah, they probably should have paid attention to the sign telling them to merge earlier. We can give a few bucks to that charity like we keep meaning to do, but never actually do. We can smile back.
Because you never know what small act of kindness will matter to someone.
You never know what tiny good deed will loom large in people’s memories – like that cashier’s did in mine.
So, at Christmas, we can buy the usual presents, but maybe we could try to do some of this stuff too, if we’re feeling up to it.
It could help make the holidays brighter for all of us, which is important, because you can never really tell who’s living in the dark.
So here’s hoping that your holidays are merry and bright, especially, if for some reason, you’re that drug store cashier I met two years ago. You, sir, are the best. The absolute best.
P.S. Next time, I’ll get back to baking. I’ll attempt to bake a Hungarian Dobos Torte and yeah, that could end badly.
P.P.S. Here’s that gif I promised you, because I feel I need to lighten the mood a bit here…