Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Sweet in the Sour

This holiday season is known for spending time with family. Those moments can be joyful, dreadful or a nauseatingly sickly combination of both. For every high there is a low and with sweet comes the sour. There is an opportunity in most situations to turn the setting on its ear and find the joy in the sorrow. Hold on! Don't worry, I haven't turned into some glassy eyed Pollyanna. I'm about to get honest. I have found myself in plenty of situations where I've sat marinading in the sour. I'm human and prone to have occasions where I pout, or sit with arms folded the inside corners of my eyebrows wrinkling downward at the thought of not getting my way (and that's just yesterday). But today I'm going to share something that happened over 10 years ago.

I once worked in an office that was in the refrigerator section of a warehouse that supplied grocery stores. I worked the late evening shift and I was the only female there in the evenings. The men who worked in the warehouse pulling orders off of pallets and stacking them in big trucks for shipping would come in to get their orders from me. It was a very eclectic group of men but like most environments they would break off into groups like high school cliques and have some varied reason to argue, spew profanity, or hate each other for varied reasons. One evening it became particularly toxic. Racial were slurs flying through the air like shrapnel. This particular evening was the war between the American's and the South Americans. Visual daggers, obscene finger language, and verbal assaults were growing and I honestly thought at one point there would be actual physical altercations. On my dinner break I left the warehouse to get out of that noxious cloud of negativity. Driving around trying to clear my head was futile and the days events flooded my mind. “Okay God, what do I do?” I said as I made my way into a grocery store parking lot. At that moment I remembered something my Grammy said to me regarding an incident with family over Thanksgiving. “When things get tense, and people start to act ugly, bring out dessert. It's hard to argue with sweet deliciousness in your mouth.” I smiled then sighed realizing I hadn't the time or a kitchen to make dessert and I was certainly unprepared to spend a wad of (non-existing) cash. I dug around in the bottom of my purse looking for any change then proceeded to dig in my pockets. A crumpled up five dollar bill and some change was all I had and I seriously doubted that was enough to feed the masses. I found myself wandering around in the 24 hour grocery for several minutes when I saw a basket with discounted items. As I rummaged through at the very bottom was a bag of miniature lollipops. I pulled out the bag realizing it was residual Halloween candy. The bag was pretty big so even if it was fifty percent off I may not have enough funds. I took the bag to the register for a price check and was pleasantly surprised that I had exactly enough. Divine order. :-) 

When I arrived back at the warehouse things were not any better so I made my way back to the office with a plan. As I handed someone an order I also handed them a lollipop. Before long the whole place was quiet and I walked out into the warehouse smiling as the men were driving their pallets around loading and unloading items with little white sticks protruding from their lips. Little pacifiers of sweetness to plug up the raging sour.

So this holiday season when your Aunt so-and-so gets a little sour. Cut her the biggest slice of cake and relish in the sweet quiet. (Unless of course she's diabetic, then there would be that awkward moment when she realizes you're trying to kill her) That's not exactly what I had in mind. ;-)

Recognize the sour and replace it with the sweet.