Christmas shopping… Those words, like, rich, creamery butter, connote something mouthwatering; in this case, a day of fun–starting perhaps with breakfast at Starbucks, followed by a leisurely stroll through the mall to search out the perfect gifts for loved ones, ending with tea and cinnamon toast in a cozy cafe after a productive day.
Blame it on the TV ads, or the frosty weather that threatens snow any day now, but last weekend I succumbed to the urge to brave Saturday traffic and head to busy West Edmonton Mall. There, I joined the throngs of shoppers, all of us side by side, cheek to jowl as it were, yet totally separate, jostling each other for space on the concord. I’ve learned that a good rule of shopping is to drink lots of water to maintain your hydration, not only because walking indoors with a coat on is hot work, but also because the other bargain hunters that brush past you, cut you off, or simply run you over can cause overheating.
Notwithstanding the small annoyances, I defy anyone (not in a wilderness location) to resist the sights and sounds of decorated Christmas trees , big red bows draped appealingly around giant appliance boxes, piped-in seasonal music, and the exuberance of small children fighting tooth and nail to convince their exasperated parents to buy every toy in sight. Because I’m not one of those parents anymore I was quite enjoying my day until…
I suddenly became aware that my purse was no longer with me. Gasp!
Anyone who has lost a wallet or purse knows that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that reaches up and grabs at your heart. Oh no, I thought. Where is it? All my money, credit cards, pictures of family, all gone! I circled the calender stand I had been checking out for the last twenty or thirty minutes, panic stricken. Where had I last used my purse? Bought something? Put it down? Talk about instant replay.
In a moment, the happiness of the day dissolved into nameless dread. All this unknown quantity of time without my purse, I’d been checking out old TV show calenders, congratulating myself for being able to remember every episode the months depicted. Why on earth couldn’t I remember where I’d left my purse? The oddities of the human brain, meh!
As I was retracing my last steps, I remembered putting the purse down on a bench when I rested for a few minutes. Rushing towards it, half hoping, half dreading… I spotted it. Yes, it was there! My purse! It sat on the bench, waiting for me, just the way my toddler did the day I forgot him at the doctor’s office. (That’s another story). I don’t want to put words in a purse’s mouth, but if I could, they would be, “Mommy, you found me!” (Actually, those might have been my son’s words.) At any rate, we were both ecstatic to be reunited.
Thinking later about how many people passed by, or sat on that bench where my purse was, all alone, it seems little short of miraculous to me that no one, not one person, grabbed it. My day could have finished, not with tea and cinnamon toast, but with frantic calls to credit card companys and banks. In the end, what said more to me about Christmas than the red ribbons and lights and music, was the fact that God kept my purse safe for me even when I didn’t know it was lost!
I can’t think of another gift this Christmas that will top that.