Sunday night, my friend Wendy and I went on a whirlwind Christmas shopping expedition. As we finished two intense hours and were heading home, Wendy asked if I would mind stopping briefly at K-Mart. She said she gets many stocking stuffers and gag gifts there each year, but often forgets to go there until she’s been everywhere else first. I don’t frequent K-Mart regularly myself, but I didn’t mind stopping.
As we wandered down one of the wide “center” aisles, filled with special gift items, I happened to see a gift box of Tabu — the scent I wore and loved throughout college. The gift box came with a spray bottle of cologne, a small purse-sized bottle and a tube of scented lotion for the amazing price tag of…wait for it…$9.90.
Me: I didn’t even know they still made this stuff! I wore this all the way through college. I used to love it!
Wendy: Then you have to buy it, an early Christmas present for yourself! Come on, you can’t beat the price!
Me: It probably stinks. I would guess that what I liked at 19 isn’t the same as what I like thirty years later!
Wendy: No, you’ll probably still love it! Come one, you have to get it.
And so I left K-Mart, the proud owner of the Tabu gift set. And guess what? I have been wearing it ever since, and…I smell goooood. I smell like carnations, and spice, and a little powder in addition to young, hopeful, and idealistic. I thought my tastes had taken me into more sophisticated sensory territory back in graduate school when I discovered Perry Ellis perfume. But I guess I have always been a Tabu girl masquerading as a designer scent profile!
This has led me to wonder what other “childish” likes or pursuits I’ve given up in the name of maturity but should reconsider now. As you know, I’ve already gone back to biking as a favorite pastime, and a couple of years ago I discovered that I still enjoy roller skating. But what else did I decide, prematurely, I was too sophisticated, too sua-vee, too plain OLD for? Here is a partial list I’d like to check out now, and see how they fare:
- Strawberry soda pop. Sickeningly sweet or deliciously decadent?
- Yarn crafts: macrame, God’s-eyes, crochet squares that somehow never got sewn into an afghan.
- Cheesy made-for-television Christmas movies. OK, who am I kidding, I never gave these up! ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas and FaLaLaLa Lifetime fight for my viewership nightly every December.
- Driving around the countryside on hot summer nights, windows down, music blaring (will it be the same if the music isn’t playing on an 8-track tape?).
- “Russian” Tea. An instant tea and Tang concoction. Hmmmm…
- Bonfire, guitars and folk singing on the “beach” (using the term loosely for a sandbar along the Mississippi River).
As is the case for most people, I think, I was in a hurry to grow up — or at least to appear grown up to the rest of the world. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me” (1 Corinthians) was a credo I took seriously. I never wanted people to think of me as childish, so I was quick to monitor my choices for what they communicated about my level of maturity. This bible verse talks about taking up adult responsibilities and mature thought processes, definitely important for all. However, as in all things, a balance is called for. “And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ ” says Matthew 18:3. The balance between these two good admonitions is what I am seeking in my life now.
When I was in college, there were numerous silly things we did to amuse ourselves. Last summer, I had a small reunion with several friends, and we resurrected our “snapping turtle” skills (see photo, below). I can’t tell you (because I’ve never known) how this started or why, but we laughed so hard attempting the snapping turtle faces, 25+ years out of practice, that I realized it is time to stop worrying about appearing childish or foolish – and to start reveling in it! Sincere enjoyment in the moment is childlike, not childish, and hits that lovely balance I’m seeking.
Now, how about it? Anyone for a strawberry soda – my treat!