Only a few weeks ago, I ranted against Black Friday on this blog. My opinion hasn't changed, but I discovered today that Christmas shopping can have very special moments that truly illustrate the meaning of the Season.
Not that I haven't enjoyed accumulating presents in my closet over the past few months, anticipating the looks on my grandchildren's faces over some particularly unexpected surprise. And I've enjoyed making Christmas cookies with the three little girls, showing them how to measure and mix, cut out, decorate . . . and granting them permission to eat the the last of the dough and a sampling of the cookies we're saving for Christmas dessert. But today, Saturday, December 17, 2011, was special, an emotional few moments that ranged from nightmare to miracle.
Ordinarily I wouldn't go near a store this near to Christmas, but I had to return a batch of colored markers to Staples at Waterford Lakes, because my oldest granddaughter was disappointed when the pink she chose turned out to be white (somehow it never got "inked"). After Staples, I braved Jo-Ann's fabrics because I had at least ten 40% off coupons burning a hole in my purse. A great opportunity to acquire yarn and craft items for the grandchildren. Plus 20% off on the whole order. For that, I would brave the Christmas crowds.
After being told I'd saved twenty-three dollars and some cents, I pushed my cart out to my car and put the bags in the trunk. While parking my cart so I could drive out frontwards, a woman asked me where the "bookstore" was. I gave her directions to Barnes & Nobles, got in my car and drove home.
But when I got home and went to put my car keys in my purse, there was no purse. I looked under my pile of Publix cloth bags, looked in the back seat, checked the trunk. No purse. My mind boggled. No purse, no driver's license, no credit cards, no debit card, no cell phone. No Macy's card, no membership cards to umpteen places. No extra car keys, no address book, no . . .
I must have been scammed, I decided. While I gave directions to Barnes & Noble, someone had grabbed my purse. But no . . . I'd swear no one else had been near, and yet . . .
Appalled, I drove back to Jo-Ann's, cataloging all the phone calls I was going to have to make. After what I knew was a hopeless check of the shopping carts in the lot, I went into the store. I stood at the counter at Customer Service, feeling like a complete idiot for even asking. I looked at the young man and said, "I know this is a stupid question, but did anyone find a purse?"
He looked at me and said, "It's not a stupid question, we did find a purse."
"You found a purse?"
"Was it silver?"
"Someone found it in a cart and turned it in. We have it locked up in our vault."
He made a call on the intercom, asking for the purse to be brought to the front of the store, while I burbled my thanks, feeling horrible that I wasn't able to thank the Good Samaritan who found my purse and turned it in. And, yes, I also thanked the good Lord for this small Christmas miracle that meant so much to me. This incident of less-than-an-hour in time that so amply illustrates the true meaning of Christmas. And of the Ten Commandments.
When you stop to think of our lousy economy, of how many people have so little . . . and yet my purse came back to me just as I left it, with everything intact.
If you've enjoyed this Christmas story, please pass it along. I can guarantee that the Christmas spirit lives at Waterford Lakes Mall in Orlando.
Grace, who is still shaking her head and saying thanks