….  for the bountiful blessings of spring advance copies, arriving daily by the boxful from our sales reps and publishers. Let their sturdy weight prop open our back doors so that the UPS and FedEx staff can wheel in the cartloads of holiday merchandise. We dream of someday reading these Spring and Summer offerings after the snow falls. Oh, wait, we have to shovel the sidewalk first, and add salt…

.to the turkeys. What were we thinking (???)  when we bought all that merchandise at summer gift shows, in tucked-away booths in the corners of the fall regionals, and from unsolicited emails from vaguely familiar gift rep groups, which we carefully unpacked and priced and displayed, just SURE that they would sell like last spring’s fad fidget…

spinners full of early readers featuring characters from TV shows we’ve never heard of, much less watched, but we’re told are the next big…

…..Thing One or Thing Two, normally featured prominently in the Dr. Seuss section, a touchpoint for those customers who only enter a children’s bookstore once or twice per year, and seek out the familiar to ground themselves. Do we hesitate, this year, as they ask for Mulberry Street? Or just nod and offer a copy of Market Street alongside? We can open eyes, or…

….close the front door, please! It’s getting colder outside, and the heating bills are rising. So, too, is payroll as we try to staff for longer hours and more evening shopping events. Dinner stays in the warming drawer, as we dream of cranberry sauce and…

….stuffing all the customer bags with flyers about Plaid Friday, Small Business Saturday, Indies First, Holiday Walks and downtown luminarias, Santa visits and Giving Trees, Toys for Tots and Cider Monday, Giving Tuesday, and please-just-buy-stuff-Wednesday, and Thursday when we’re likely to run out of…

wrapping paper again. The shiny rolls that were so exciting when we opened them in September, remarked upon by customers in October as they sat under the Halloween decorations and seemed impertinent in their disregard for “one holiday at a time”… but are now the workhorses of the shop, ripped and folded and ribboned with every purchase. Those cute little reindeer and snowmen now look like goblin taskmasters, consuming entire rolls of tape like…

….popcorn strung on the store Christmas tree, twinkle lights around the windows, and wreaths purchased from neighborhood scout troops on the doors which are hung with big jingle bells, like sleigh bells worn by…

….horse (hoarse) staffers, who keep passing the same cold and cough around the crew like the background music rotation. Please, someone, find the second box of holiday music CDs, or I may need to reconsider my love for Charlie…

….Brown paper packages, not tied with string, as that gets caught in the USPS sorting machines, and delays our home deliveries. For we are racing, racing against the Giant South American River delivery service to be the first to allow our customers to shop at home in their…

….Pajamas nights and midnight sales, late night “adult only” events for parents, serving wine and wassail to warm their hearts and loosen their grip on the Platinum…

….credit card processors, who call every hour to offer us “wholesale rates” and “my manager who is in your area” and will offer us SUCH A GREAT DEAL if we meet with them for…

….ten minutes that I confess to hiding in the stock room today, to avoid a difficult customer who is never, ever happy.  For her Grinchlike spirit might make me cry, and the hour I will spend unearthing little-known but just-perfect backlist titles for her gifted grandchildren (that we will find in paperback, of course) will be carefully pursued, considered, and left stacked on a table, un-purchased again. Ten blessed minutes that I pretended to be looking for restock, but was really sitting on a stepstool with my eyes closed, dreaming of…

closing time, with its predictable siren call to all large families, browsers, and holiday revelers from the restaurant next door, full and happy from dinner and a few glasses of wine, ready to wander around the store, and ask our favorite question, “SO, are you guys getting…

….BUSY? as we stack purchases, giftwrap while calling out titles and book locations over our shoulders, hurdle preschoolers playing with cars on the floor as we dive to prevent a toddler from toppling the plush display, rescue the wrapped Sabuda pop-up from the sticky hands of the kindergarten crowd and gently offer the store sample instead, signal with our eyebrows for the staffer near the bathroom to check if that running water sound we hear is a cause for alarm, twirl to pull a folding chair for grandpa from behind the train display and park it directly in front of the holiday books, where he can be coaxed to read aloud from The Night Before…

….Christmas to a charmed circle of children, once again reminding us of the joy of the season, of the privilege of living and working in a world of books, and words, and…

love to all of you this Thanksgiving weekend. If you celebrate with family, hug them close. If you celebrate with friends, laugh together and be grateful. If you celebrate with strangers, or travel keeps you distant, know that you are in our hearts, and dinner is in the warming drawer (and if you’re free on Friday or Saturday, come help your local bookseller wrap). I am thankful for you all year round.

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