Monday, December 05, 2016

Gift Wrapped Foot in Mouth

Have you ever wanted to grab words, that have spilled out of your mouth, and pull them back. Make the said, unsaid? I was chatting with a woman who had told me only a few minutes before that she wasn't looking forward to the holidays this year because times were tight. She had managed to get things for her kids but every penny she spent in one place had to be carefully cut out from another. She was tired.

But we had left that conversation and had moved on to another, I was talking about Ruby and Sadie and how they have changed the holiday season for us. We've always loved it, but it's even more exciting with tyrannical elves on shelves and plates of cookies for Santa. It's a great season.

Then, in excitement I began talking about the gift we picked up for the kids, for the first time the parents don't know what it is, the girls don't know what it is and it's a gift that both Joe and I think is very cool. I talked about how hard it was to find, how we tracked one down and how we snatched it up.

While the gift isn't outrageously priced, it's not cheap either.

As I'm talking I'm actually really hearing the earlier conversation. About someone who is having difficulty making ends meet over the holidays, who is struggling to get gifts. I had heard the conversation but I hadn't really HEARD it, it hadn't sunk deeply enough in my consciousness to have the impact that it should have.

After having listened to her, in my mind, minutes too late, I then, and it was awful, heard me. Bleating on about searching for this gift and how we managed to get it. It was unnecessary twattle that sounded a lot like, well, I don't want to say.

I need to listen in the moment.

Not later after I've already put my foot in it.

Throughout my quickly finishing up my gift chat and moving on to something else, she was kind and let me change the subject. We chatted for a few more minutes and then wished each other happy holidays.

May one day my mouth and mind be subject to my ears.

3 comments:

Unknown said...

Ugh....I've made nervous blurts in front of patients that make me sound like an insensitive fool...and then I take care of them...lots of opportunity to reflect on the saying that one should choose one's words wisely, as some day you may have to eat them!
(Comes from children's book The Phantom Tollbooth, I think).
It is hard to let it go and begin again....but that's all you can do in that situation...
I hope it doesn't take the joy out of the story for you and Joe.
Clairesmum

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

"I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

I love that you tell on yourself as you learn, too.

Not the best place to have that conversation. But your enthusiasm is good for finding something special for your little friends.

You might consider whether there is anything you might DO for this woman and her family. Since you know her problems.

There are so many people and so many needs it gets overwhelming, and I resent being in a position where, because of disability, there is nothing I can DO except send money. We've always done that, and no one does anything for ME, but I am surviving, and many others are not.

It is extremely selfish of me to use my tiny bit of energy to write; I can only justify that because 1) I literally can't do anything else, and 2) my novel has a disabled main character, and people have said lovely things about how I portray her (no, not inspiration p*rn). I'd like some day to contribute some of the earning from it - but marketing is going slowly, and there's not much to contribute yet.

You get out in the world and DO much good. I envy you that.

Mary Nau said...

Maybe I'm way off here, but I wouldn't want someone to treat me differently because I had less. I'd want them to feel comfortable sharing their world with me because then I could enjoy their joy. I'm wondering if she might have felt worse if you hid your enthusiasm from her. Not all gifts come gift wrapped?