REINDEER MAGIC, PART I: CLAIRE

[I preface this post by saying that I respect all holiday traditions and religions, and am not meaning to offend anyone by posting something Christmas-specific. I have my own beliefs and spirituality that is neither Christian nor any other defined religion. However, I was in fact raised by a Christmas-celebrating family, and do enjoy the cultural and spiritual traditions that go along with this holiday. Ultimately, to me, this time of year is about loving kindness, altruism, family togetherness, and spiritual closeness; so, whatever form people choose to celebrate these themes is okay by me. For me, the holidays are a time when we “remember that we sometimes forget” to be, act, think, and feel this attitude of loving kindness all year round, so it is a special thing to be reminded of during this holiday season. As Bill Murray in Scrooged exclaims, this kind of love “…can happen every day. You’ve just gotta want that feeling. And if you like it, and you want it, you’ll get greedy for it. You’ll want it every day of your life.” This is what Christmas and this holiday season means to me. It is not about religious dogma or traditional obligations. It is about remembering how to love. And as always, with this goddess, it is also about remembering to never forget, to believe, in just a little bit of magic.]

reindeer.coexist

I live alone in a junior studio apartment, and normally do not decorate for Christmas. This is not because I do not LOVE this holiday season, or because I do not LOVE decorative holiday explosion festiveness. I love all of these kinds of things. I love getting overpriced, overly sugary Christmassy drinks at Starbucks. I love wearing obnoxious dork-ville Christmas sweaters. I love shopping for Christmas trees, and I love seeing twinkling Christmas lights at every turn. I still get excited wrapping and opening Christmas presents. I love it all. But I have never decorated my little studio apartment for this holiday season, for some strange reason. Mostly, it seems silly to me, because our family celebrates the holiday season at my sister’s house, and her home is always decorated adorably and showcases a beautiful tree every year. So, why spend the money on holiday decorations for my teensy apartment, that no one but me will see? Why even put a wreath on my door? In the past, I have always just kind of let the whole thing blow over, in terms of decorating my own living space. But something in me changed this year, and I decided to explore the possibility of a door decoration, if nothing else.

I think this urge was sparked by my recent inclination to improve my living space, by replacing a very not-me, non-goddess love seat, with a meaningful, beautiful HOBBIT NOOK area. Ever since then, I have been taking more pride in my humble abode, and attempting to imbue every corner of my home, including my front door, with goddess love and meaning. But this is all just background information. This story actually begins at Pier 1 Imports.

Before this holiday season, I had not been inside a Pier 1 Imports store for at least ten years. I used to love going into this store, and every time I set foot inside, I always ran the risk of buying something I absolutely did not need, but absolutely very much wanted. So, I actually stopped going all together, in order to curb the habit. But for this attempt at holiday door decoration, I decided to open the Pier 1 portal once again; and it was in fact, better than I could have ever imagined.

reindeer.pier1

Pier 1 Imports, King of Prussia, PA—where I suspect divine ley lines intersect and form a vortex of spiritual power and fusion

Upon entering the store, I was greeted by a Christmas Elf incarnate a.k.a. Claire. I never actually caught her name, but since she is the main feature of Part I of this story, it is important that she is assigned a name. She looked kind of like a Claire. She looked like a woman who, at first glance, is very put together and responsible; yet at her core, has a bit of an unhinged edge to her, conglomerating as a delightfully multi-faceted, irresistible, and somewhat elusive goddess.

I told Claire I was looking for some door decorations and she instantly sprung into questions and inspired ideas. Normally, I am not a huge customer service collaboration fan. But door decoration is not my purview, and as Claire’s entire being earned my trust within seconds, I blindly began following her around the store, metaphorically choking on her glitter-saturated trail of infectious, furied, holiday passion. After she threw out a slew of brilliant ideas—and I do mean brilliant—she left me to wander around the store for inspiration. I did not know much, but I knew that I did not want a typical wreath, and I did not want my door decoration to be overly sophisticated or grown-up. I wanted this creation to feel whimsical and playful. That was all I knew, and I left the rest in the hands of the Pier 1 Imports Gods.

Within moments of my solitary wandering, my eyes landed on the most precious, inanimately animated, plushly stuffed being. Without even pausing to mull, I bent down to scoop up this treasure, nestled him possessively under my arm, and at once knew that I had just been united with my Reindeer.

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This is Reindeer. I thought long and hard about giving him a name, but ultimately could not decide on something perfect enough—so he is just Reindeer.

With Reindeer tightly stationed under my arm, suffocating, but safe, I knew I could not proceed any further without the divine guidance of Claire. I began searching for her, and finally pinned her down after several minutes of needy waiting and longing. I had taken one of her earlier suggestions and obtained as well, a faux-pine-table-setting-place-mat-kind-of-thingy (image below), to consider using as a backdrop for Reindeer’s presence on my door. Upon witnessing my armload of imports, Claire quickly calculated my plan and started skimming the store for another, even better alternative, to the faux-pine-table-setting-place-mat-kind-of-thingy. She found instead for me, a faux-mistletoe-place-mat of the same form, and at that point, I felt the need to express to Claire the importance of budget. As she pulled out the faux-mistletoe-mat and watched me as my eyes widened with excitement and awe, she quickly glanced at the price tag and assured me, “Actually, you don’t want this one,” shoving the rejected mistletoe item back on its shelf, and looking up at me with a smile and a wink—I kid you not, this treasure of a goddess winked at me.

faux.pine

Faux-pine-table-setting-place-mat-kind-of-thingy

By now, post-wink, Claire had unknowingly—and most likely uncaringly—obtained my full and utter abandoned devotion; and I continued walking behind her, traveling through the aisles of the store, half-blind-half-drunk on admiration. As I shuffled along in Claire’s wake, I felt as if I were being gently pulled by some sacred energies of Higher Wisdom.

The final step in this whirlwind brainstorming session led by Claire, was to find a way to mount Reindeer and Pine to something sturdy that possessed characteristics compatible with my front door. Claire again astounded me with her generosity and disappeared into the storage room, returning after only a few moments, with an appropriately sized board of strong, dark brown Masonite. She assured me that these boards come with all of their shipments, and they are often just discarded, so she was therefore happy to offer me one of these boards for my project.

As we walked back to the counter, I did something I rarely do with strangers, unless it is genuine and from the heart. As a divine witness to Claire’s incredible role at this establishment, I announced my opinion to Claire, about Claire, exclaiming, “You are really good at this! This might be your calling, and I feel like you are really aligned with what you are doing here.” Something to that effect. Claire responded very appreciatively, although seemed rather unaffected by my words; which is really, so very Claire. We returned to the counter and lined everything up, both agreeing that this Board + Pine + Reindeer combo was the ticket to my holiday door decoration success, as she gave me a few additional tips about how to logistically fasten everything together.

As we were chatting at the counter—this counter chat included another employee as well; one who seemed a bit timid, and equally in awe, if not a bit frightened of, Claire (I have named her Joyce)—Claire again began freely expressing her thoughts to us, and admitted that although she found Reindeer to be quite adorable and perfect for MY project, she would use a different plush creature if this were her design. Again, she tore around the counter and zipped down another aisle, retrieving her beloved stuffed animal of choice. As she raised a very crazed-looking, mangy-haired, and adorably dopey Christmas llama, high in the air for us to see, Joyce and I both lovingly half-gasped and half-giggled at Claire (we were absolutely laughing with her and not at her) for her eccentric taste in holiday beasts. As Claire relaxedly found her way back behind the counter, I candidly remarked how each of our chosen spirit animals—at this point, Joyce had selected her own favorite thing and was clutching it with love—seemed somewhat reflective of our own personalities. Claire immediately agreed and started describing her likeness to the strange llama, as I chimed in with the Claire-centric adjectives, “whacky” and “fun,” and she noddingly blushed in surrendered acceptance and agreement.

reindeer.pier1a

After paying for my items and sadly parting with the enchanting Claire, I floated out of the store, bewitched by her presence in my life, and excited, albeit somewhat nervous, to begin formulating my one-of-a-kind, Reindeer Magic, door decoration.

As you can tell by now, half—or, perhaps even more than half—of this magical holiday story, stems from the divine circumstances (all things related to and/or having to do with Claire) in which I obtained Reindeer. And seeing as how this key component of my story has taken up a fair amount of space and time, I have broken this article into sections. Please stay tuned for PART II of this holiday story, where I describe in detail how Reindeer Magic comes into being.

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Part II teaser

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