The old ladies in the locker room at the gym fall into two categories.
The really cranky ones and the really happy ones.
The really cranky ones are annoyed when the floor gets wet and when there are kids in there and when someone takes their shower and if your bag is on the bench and basically any time anybody does anything.
I get dressed really fast when they are in the locker room.
But then there are the happy old ladies.
The ones who smile as soon as they see a little kid, and actually engage them in conversation.
The ones who say hello to every single other elderly woman who walks in the door.
The ones who basically just seem happy to still be alive.
I’m kind of fascinated by them.
I’m not exactly looking forward to being that old, but to be able to leisurely get dressed, and hang out and talk to your girlfriends about, well, anything without a small child constantly trying to pull your pants off and interrupt you seems nice.
To not feel the need to rush, constantly, seems so foreign to me.
I listened to two women talking today.
They didn’t talk about much in particular.
They talked about hair appointments and holiday plans and looking forward to seeing grandchildren.
And every time a happy old lady finished getting dressed and left the locker room, they would all say goodbye to each other.
Like on the Waltons, when all the kids said goodnight to each other at the end of each episode.
But they didn’t rush out of the locker room with blinders on.
Maybe they weren’t rushing because they just physically can’t. But maybe it was because they know better, too.
The happy old ladies are all… mindful.
Mindful of other human beings.
As I sat there putting my shoes on and rushing and sweating, one of the all-dressed and all-primped old ladies in the next row over put her jacket on and headed toward the door.
There was no rushing. There was eye contact. And there was the acknowledgment of each person she knew by name.
“Goodbye, Joan! Merry Christmas!” she said to one of the women.
“Merry Christmas, Peggy!” she said to the other woman.
And then she looked at me.
“Merry Christmas to you, too!” she said.
No one my age ever acknowledges people they don’t know like that.
It felt so nice to be acknowledged by someone I had never seen or met before. Just for being a human being.
It was sincere and genuine. And it really made my day.
And again, I was reminded of the Christmas spirit.
But you know what else?
That happy old lady didn’t put her jacket on, pull her phone out, put her blinders on, and immediately start checking Facebook, messages and texts.
She didn’t walk out to her car staring at her phone.
Neither did the crabby old ladies, but I think that has something to do with it.
With making another person feel acknowledged and special.
I’m guilty doing this with my phone too.
So I’m going to keep it in my pocket for the next couple days.
I could give people presents or I could give them presence.
Random acts of kindness during the Christmas season don’t need to be wrapped.
I think I’ll go with option two.