Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Christmas Shopping Story

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

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Reflections on Thanksgiving

I wrote this blog right after Thanksgiving, and because it’s mostly a rant against Black Friday, I let it mellow a bit before I posted it. But, basically, my sentiments haven’t changed. If you agree with what I’ve written, I hope you’ll pass it along. It’s time for a grass-roots revolt against the incursion of crass commercialism into our most American holiday.

~ * ~

Grace's Reflections on Thanksgiving

Now that Thanksgiving is past, I feel the need to comment on the good and the bad of the holiday that is coming closer and closer to being trampled under the rush toward Christmas. Or should I say, under the rush toward greed and acquisition of material goods that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas?

My daughter and I, with the aid of some of our guests, fed nineteen for Thanksgiving this year. And, no, we weren’t volunteering at a homeless shelter. That was just our extended family here in Orlando. Thirteen of the sixteen adults present were native Spanish-speakers.

Two of our Hispanic guests just got their citizenship six weeks ago. So for more than just the three children, ages 5, 6, and 8, I took the time to explain a bit about the first Thanksgiving before we said grace. I read a passage in which the Pilgrim’s Governor Bradford wrote that although they had very little, they sat down [November 1621] and gave thanks. I told the children that was another way of saying that if we didn’t say thank-you for little things, it was all too easy to forget to say thank-you for big things. A lesson we all need to remember.

This was the largest Thanksgiving gathering I have ever participated in, and I’m happy to say it was a success. I felt we had been true to the spirit of Thanksgiving and, at the same time, been able to demonstrate the family traditions of Thanksgiving to people unfamiliar with this holiday. This year, for the first time, a few of them actually tried the cranberry sauce!

And yet, while we were sitting down to dinner, thousands of people across the country were waiting in line to storm the big box stores. One woman in our area was shown on television saying, yes, she knew this was a family holiday, and her whole family was with her in line—they were starting a new tradition. As I recall, I groaned out loud.

This year, not only did stores open at midnight on “Black Friday,” some actually opened on Thanksgiving Day. I was appalled, making a mental note not to patronize those stores for any of my Christmas shopping. Black Friday indeed—and nudging its way into Black Thursday. For shame!

And what did you think of the Black Friday ads this year? The prize for most tasteless and most insulting went to Target. I almost threw something at my TV every time it came on. That’s the ad with the brainless twit who was so excited about Black Friday she could only giggle insanely and present the absolute worst caricature of a female shopper. Totally nauseating, as well as a kick in the teeth for women in general. I swear that ad must have been written by a twenty-something New York ad guy who hated his mother. But that Target execs actually approved it . . .! Aargh! It was a slap in the face to every female I know.

I don’t think the Pilgrims braved the seas in three little boats, starved, and lost half their group that first winter so Americans could remember them by camping out for days in order to buy a TV at a bargain price. What our broken economy needs is more people with genuine values, people who respect God, home, and family. People who give thanks for the bounties we have, whether large or small. People who buy American, yes, but never forget to set aside time to give thanks that the Pilgrims set foot on this new world and were followed by thousands and thousands of others seeking freedom and a fresh start. (Otherwise none of would be here.)

What our ancestors did in coming to this country, whether 390 years ago or in 2011, is worth giving thanks for. Our country, no matter how troubled at the moment, is worth giving thanks for. And thanks for family, friends, a job, food on the table. And even if the job is iffy and the food sparse, we’re still lucky to be here and not in some more unstable part of the world. There’s always something to give thanks for, even if occasionally we have to look pretty hard to find it.

And to all those people, waiting in line to trample others on their way to the goodies: is your life really so shallow that shopping is all Thanksgiving and Christmas mean to you? You could at least take the time to be thankful you have the $200 instead of $2000 for a TV. After all, if you’re in line, you’re waiting to BUY, aren’t you? Which means you have a lot more than many of our citizens do at the moment. If only you were buying American . . . or giving that money to charity.

Ah well, I guess that’s too much to ask. But please, folks, however you do your Christmas shopping next year, please take the time on Thanksgiving Day to give thanks, true thanks for our blessings. (And it wouldn’t hurt to tell Wal-Mart and the other stores that opened on Thanksgiving this year that it’s time to Cease and Desist.)

I understand many of these same big box stores were quiet by the time normal business hours rolled around on Black Friday, which indicates the stores aren’t going to make any more money opening at 5:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day than if they open at midnight or, better yet, at a reasonable time on Friday morning, giving their employees time to enjoy both a proper Thanksgiving dinner and football.

If you agree with this article, I’d appreciate your passing it on.

Grace of Grace’s Mosaic Moments
Who writes as Blair Bancroft