MONIQUE BATSON — Let’s practice thanks before we launch into Christmas

Published 12:05 am Friday, November 5, 2021

‘Tis the season.

If you know me at all, you know typing that cliché was one of the hardest things I’ve done this week. Every time I hear it, I cringe. Not just for its overuse (or our sports editor’s attempts to fit it into everything he can just to hear me snarl), but because of its meaning.

I’m not a fan of the holidays. In fact, I feel on Dec. 26 how most people feel on the day before. That’s when I find my joy – when the stress is over. Because for me, it seems it’s always been about stress.

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My mother was single most of my childhood, and we were not wealthy by any means. She felt the need to go overboard at Christmas because — in her words — it was the only time of year she could do anything for us. But knowing that always made me sad. It still does, as she still says every year that Christmas “won’t be much” since she’s been dealing with health problems and cannot work. Telling her constantly that I truly don’t want anything just seems to push her further.

But I know why, because it’s an inherited trait. Even for the 15 years my ex-husband and I were together, we struggled. (I’m a print journalist. We’re not known for rolling bank.) Every Christmas I had four children to focus on and almost no money to do it. Now as a single mom, it’s even worse.

For me, the “season” just means stress.

But I promised I wouldn’t be “all bah humbug” in this column, so let’s turn it around. Just brace for the sudden pivot.

Wednesday afternoon I stopped at the Walgreens on FM 365 just to be met with a line of vehicles stalled in the road. The driveway was mostly blocked by a Jeep with its hazard lights on. Vehicles maneuvered around, some honking, but no one stopping.

So I parked my car and went to her window to see if she needed help pushing her vehicle out of the driveway. It was only a matter of time before some impatient person clipped her SUV trying to get by.

It was raining, I was wearing heels, and I have the body strength of a dandelion. But she popped the Jeep in neutral and I tried my hardest to push it forward. At least a dozen vehicles passed us; no one stopped to help.

We learned the SUV could move some, only slowly and I walked behind her to hopefully slow incoming cars as we got it to a spot where she was no longer impeding traffic or in danger of getting hit. I then asked her if she needed a ride. She said she was waiting on someone to call her back, so I told her I’d run in the store, grab what I needed, alert management that she’d be leaving her vehicle, and come check after.

Obviously still shaken by the breakdown of her vehicle, she said, “I have money for gas. I just thank you. There aren’t many people like you anymore.”

And, while telling her it wasn’t a problem and I didn’t want any money, it still broke my heart.

Why aren’t there?

Why did so many people ignore what was clearly a woman alone having car trouble and not able to move? Why did so many people ignore me looking like a soaking wet rat in heels trying to push a Jeep in a rainstorm like I was the Hulk? We certainly couldn’t have looked very threatening. If anything, we probably ended up as a meme on someone’s Snapchat.

So my challenge for you is this: Work less at decorating your Christmas tree this month and more on helping those who need it. I’m no saint just because I stopped to push a vehicle that would have flattened me had it rolled back once. But I’ve been the woman in a broke down car — terrified of how I would fix it, what it would cost and how I would even get to work the next day — while people passed me by.

Don’t be that person.

And for those who pulled into Walgreens Wednesday and ignored a woman in a broke down Jeep, call Ms. Tee’s Cleaning Service at 409-853-6885. I’m sure she could use the extra work to help fix her vehicle, and you owe her.

‘Tis the season, after all.


Monique Batson is the Port Arthur Newsmedia editor and can be reached at