Child at the Mall
It’s the week before Christmas at the local mall on the height of holiday buy-season. It’s near closing, which is 11pm. There aren’t many shoppers left. Of course, the storefronts are adorned in festive holiday décor. The opulent commercialism doesn’t bother me a bit.
It felt childlike in those last shopping-minutes to be among the few remaining stragglers in a vast Holiday Wonderland—kind of like having a whole amusement park all to myself! I smiled and my holiday cheer rang up a notch. Just another reason to love Christmas—even at 50 years old, I can still feel like a child on the mall. And so I did. That’s why The Sadness stunned me off guard.
It happened as I browsed the shelves in the Hallmark store, inspecting the greeting card selections. The cards’ “Inside Message” is noted on the back of each box. I took my time reading each missive, because the greeting, not the fancy illustration, is the whole reason for Christmas cards.
At first I hardly notice it: A small box of simple two-color prints with plain white envelopes and no glitter. I was not impressed, but casually glanced at it anyway. Let’s see, what does the greeting say? I read the simple inscription and I knew at once that it was meant for me. I pause, blink, and read it again. The Sadness suddenly grips me with a vengeance. I know The Sadness well. But I have been doing good with it and it doesn’t come much anymore. Rare when it does, I feel it coming and it’s fleeting. Never has it been this intense without warning. So there is no chance holding back.
I face the wall, bow my head in my hands, and weep quietly (I hope). The child within leaves me. And the man I am weeps. These are tears meant for adults only.
Second Soundless Christmas
The allure of the holidays plays positive on every human sense—brilliant ornaments, sparkling wines, fragrant candles, lavish banquets and precious gifts; love and peace; and the awe of God Himself—and rejoicing all of these wonders with the beautiful sound of music! If it is true, as they say, that Angels in Heaven sing, surely it is Christmas carols!
This is my second deaf Christmas. I have never been more grateful that its joyous sound pealed glorious every wonderful year of my life, except in the last two. I hear no music now and I miss it awful. It’s even more difficult this year because I have forgotten the sound of the sound. I know the lyrics to Silent Night, but I can’t play the tune in my head anymore. I can recite every precious word, but the melody is strangely unknown to me. Last Christmas, I knew it. But now I can’t remember.
Losing the memory of beautiful sounds is the most peculiar development since my deaf adventure began. And now I discover in a Hallmark store, that it haunts me most at Christmas.
Back at the Store
The mall closes in 11 minutes and I’m the only patron. I swallow hard and wipe my face with the cuff of my jacket. But my eyes stay teary-red. I could tell she noticed, but the lady at the cash register pretended not to. People don’t know what to say when they see a grown man cry. Not to mention that this poor lady looked pretty holiday-beaten herself. I can tell she just wants my sorry soul out of there. Bah, humbug! So without a merry word between us, I purchase a box of the bargain-budget greeting cards and hurry out of the store.
The mall is nearly empty now. My car is parked all the way at the other end of the complex. I trudge there slowly glancing at the holiday décor. Looks nice, I whisper.
March at the Christmas Castle
Tall pines lined the gallery floor adorned in crimson and gold. Huge crystal snowflakes glisten from the rafters. Angelic statues seem to smile at me as I pass. Hundreds of vivid-red poinsettias greet me at every turn. My moist eyes twinkled back at the infinite sparkle of Christmas lights every step of the merry way.
I need to cheer myself up. That’s what I need. I look around the festive mall and I see no one. I imagine not a soul is there. Just me. I pretend for one brief shining moment that I had just marched through the grand halls of a Christmas Castle that was mine alone.
I mumble to myself that I’m going nuts and chuckle at my whimsy. Still, the walk—real and imaginary—did me good. My heart warms a bit and I feel better.
All the Quiet Beauty
Now at the exit, I look back across the gallery. Every fixture in the building is still on high beam. I hear precisely nothing in the peaceful stillness as the ceiling lights shine on all the quiet beauty of the season that God graced my eyes to see tonight! Looks awesome, I whisper. And it really did!
I reach for my box of greeting cards and again read the missive. This time I smile. I read it again. I smile more. The child in me returns; I exit the mall and go home.
This year my Christmas card greeting prays the following to my loved ones, friends, and you:
Wishing you all the quiet beauty of the season.
Brian Patrick Jensen is a father, teacher, trainer, award-winning business leader, and motivational speaker. He also happens to be deaf. Hear him and be inspired!December 24, 2011