What I have learnt this Christmas


IMG_30521.  People are grumpy.

In recent months I have been adding a little extra to the family coffers by working in customer services for online stores in the States.  Usually at about 2 or 3 hours a day this has added a little pocket-money during the quieter months of my new business venture.  During the run up to Christmas people went wild  with their credit cards and my hours grew tenfold, literally meaning I was spending more time with American shoppers than my own family.  Luckily there is no Christmas in Israel (at least not in my part) so my own Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve and even on Christmas morning was stress free.  Not so much the onliners.  Oh. my. goodness.  Talk about first world problems.

“My dogs special Christmas biscuits haven’t arrived yet and I ordered them a week ago” “I’m sorry the postal service is delayed due to the season” ” You have ruined our Christmas, what do I give the dog now?” A bone?  Purlease.

“I am really tired of dealing with you, your labels don’t print out straight and I need to return the water bottle I bought from you.  I wanted blue and you sent me green, I HATE green”

“I bought this [can of spicy salsa] from you and I don’t like it, it’s too spicy.  Can I return it?” Umm, you opened it?  Ate from it? Then NO.

“If my order was broken in transit why should I use my printer ink to print your [prepaid] return labels?  I am not wasting my ink or electricity printing, you need to send them by mail immediately”

“Call this a skateboard?  I have been skateboarding for 8 years and I have never come across such a s**t board.  I carn’t [sic] do my trix [sic].  It’s too heavy.  Send me money back now”

I could go on, and on, and on, and on.  The word I seldom came across was ‘please’.  The punctuation and grammar, never mind the spelling and most of all the anger has been just, well, shocking.  Why do people get so upset about such tiny things.  One man who did write a very rude and angry message to me did apologise after I was super nice and kind to him in my reply.  He told me his wife had just been laid off and he’d had forced early retirement.  Now that’s a real problem (albeit not mine so why are you YELLING AT ME).  The colour of your water bottle, that, is not.

2. Christmas is not for everyone.

As I have mentioned in previous posts the delicate balance between keeping Christmas in my life whilst bringing the children up in a Jewish country with a husband who has trouble being in the same room as a Christmas tree has its own challenges.  This year my husband explained his slow but sure acceptance of the holiday as part of my culture and therefore part of our children’s and for that I am extremely grateful.

Christmas is always a time of reflection and memories, something about the age-old family traditions; where the stockings are hung, what goes on the top of the tree, whether to finish all the chocolate coins before or after breakfast, brings back bygone Christmases and those no longer with us to share them.  Those hit by tragedy this past year in particular have had it tough and I have to tell you that if avoidance is your thing then Israel is the right place to come (and it’s sunny in December).

3. The best Christmas parties are when a group people get together with one aim to have fun.

We have been at two Christmas gatherings this holiday season.  The first at a friend’s house where, like last year, I was the only Christian but who doesn’t like an enormous dinner, sparkly lights and mulled wine right?  The second we had at our house with our Israeli friends who quite possibly didn’t know it was Christmas save for the small tree in the corner of the room (which by the way fell off its stand by the end of the evening).  Both gatherings were fantastic.  Fun for the kids, fun for the adults, fun for our stomachs.  If the message of Christmas is goodwill to all men no matter what their faith then we are on a winning streak.

4. Presents are nice

I love getting presents and the fact that I didn’t expect even one under the tree for myself this year meant I was stupendously pleased when a bumper bottle of Chanel arrived from Ma & Pa plus two bottles of gin and a much-needed winter coat from husband (I am off to Switzerland soon) were my loot.  I went shopping, uhum Santa went shopping, for the childers’ presents in a $ store and for the bargain price of 20 quid I filled their stockings with all the beads, toy cars, crayons and puzzles they could wish for.  Our lovely relatives from the UK provided the main presents and so far, 5 days later every single toy is being played with, every book read and every puzzle built, underlining my philosophy that a few of the right stuff, no matter the price goes a long way.

5. I miss Christmas but this year not as much

Perhaps because my sister was here, perhaps because I knew my parents were with my brother and his family, perhaps because I didn’t dwell too much and I was simply so busy this Christmas I had no sad moments longing for Christmas in the UK.  I miss my family and friends on a daily basis and although its more poignant during the festive season and I want to have a ‘proper’ Christmas again I think I can safely admit that this Christmas has been fun.

I hope all of you enjoyed your holiday season, whatever you celebrated or even if you didn’t.  I want to wish everyone a Happy 2014.  Thanks for reading and supporting my mutterings this year.  Onwards and upwards!




5 responses »

  1. This was a great post. We have the same combo couple here (one Jew, one non-Jew), and my Christmas stuff has been gathering dust for many years. It doesn’t bother me, but we agree with a recent story on Tablet that there’s nothing wrong with secular celebrations of winter, the solstice, the end of the year, or whatever else people want to call the Christmas season. My mum was horrified that we don’t have a tree or decorate, but she passed away this summer. It’s always fun to leave a gathering and hear people wish us a Merry…um…HOLIDAY. They’re uncomfortable, of course (awkward!) but we just laugh and wish the same to them.

    Your customer service encounters reminded me of my days doing that job for the phone company, a credit card bank, and AAA emergency road service. Like you, I found that killing them with kindness and courtesy was the way to defuse a tense situation or placate a grumpy customer.

    Best wishes for 2014. Your blog is terrific, and knowing Israel as I do, plus having an English background, I relish every post. Mutter on!!

    • Thank you so much and sorry that you haven’t had much to relish of late. As you see from this post I have hardly had time to write my name. Business as usual from now! Have a fantastic 2014 and thanks for reading and I hope you keep enjoying. Katie x

      • Thanks for your comment about Mom. She was always terribly worried about me when I was in Israel. Few in my family can understand the attraction I have for the place!

      • Unless people have spent any time here it’s difficult to convince them of something other than the pictures on the news. My mum doesn’t like me being here although she has seen many many times what its really like. I think she just wants us and her Grandchildren a bit closer – it must be hard, losing your child to another country and culture.

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