by Lillian Csernica on April 3, 2022
THE ALL-PURPOSE ELF
Every once in a while some of the peculiar skills I’ve picked up in this life come together in strange and surprising ways. I love Cost Plus World Market, especially during the holidays. I love the smell of the cedar wood and the glitter of the bangles from India and most of all I love the variety of Christmas ornaments for sale every year. I was on a mission to acquire some of the items on my gift list when three noteworthy events happened, in a very useful order.
One holiday season when I was browsing in Cost Plus I saw one of the store managerial people go hustling past, followed by a lady in a very nice suit, good jewelry, and high heels. Regular store staff would never wear heels like that, not on a concrete floor and not for an eight hour shift. Those high heels meant the lady had to be someone important, a director of a given geographical region or maybe even somebody from the corporate office. No wonder the staff were more numerous and much cheerier with an almost frantic edge.
Now for the second event. I spotted a large glass jar full of big old-fashioned skeleton keys in both bronze and pewter finish. Each key was attached to a key ring meant to hold regular everyday keys. Inspiration struck. I happened to be standing near the line where people waited for the next available checker. Another one of the managerial people stood there directing traffic. He was a nice young man, tall and husky with a good head of dark hair. I asked him if I might offer a suggestion. I explained what I do as a volunteer for the my local Post Office, answering the letters written to Santa Claus. Some of the children who live in houses without chimneys worry that Santa Claus won’t be able to deliver their presents on Christmas Eve. I told the young man that these keys would be a perfect solution. All he’d have to do is create a display that advertised special “Keys for Santa Claus” that could be hung up outside the front door.
The young man listened politely at first, then with growing attention. He began nodding along with me, giving me a bright smile. He thought that was an excellent idea. The timing was great too, because one of the people from high up in management was in the store that day. He could talk to her and get her approval, then get something set up later in the afternoon. The dear young man was getting so enthusiastic about the whole project I wanted to hug him.
And now for the third event. When I was looking over the Hanukkah display, I saw a few things that bothered me. Several young women in store aprons were bustling around. I asked one for help. I pointed out to her the area in the candy section where all the various types of chocolate coins were on display side by side. Then I led her around the back of the Hanukkah display and showed her the lower shelf where the Hanukkah gelt sat. I suggested to the young lady that she might put some of the Hanukkah gelt over by the other coins, so people who were looking for Hanukkah gelt would have an easier chance of finding it. The young lady was in full agreement. I mentioned the dreidels were also tucked away on the back side of the Hanukkah display. I persuaded the young lady to take some of the dreidels and put them into the bins up by the registers where you can find all manner of wonderful little trinkets from around the world. You can’t get to the registers in that store without passing by those bins, so the dreidels would be much easier to find.
For me, this was about fairness. The Hanukkah display consisted of just two shelves back to back in the middle of all the Christmas glitz. Celebrating the Miracle of Light deserves just as much respect, both religious and commercial, as other days of religious commemoration. If we can love each other, look out for each other, and do the little things that show respect for each other’s cultures and practices, then we really will achieve peace on earth.