Yesterday, I made a quick stop at TJ M*xx…where there are always wonderful surprises in store for those with stamina enough to sort through the fray. Yes, I could have been elsewhere, but, actually, I was hoping to make a dent in my Christmas list.

Speaking of buggies…(oh I guess I wasn’t) why in heaven’s name would any store start corralling their carts on the outside of the store when they have the hardest doors in town to open. It makes a body not want to even mess with getting a buggy…and everyone knows that you will spend waaaaay more money if you have one. It is just easier to carry more things around with you as you go about your search. And you can shop longer and buy more stuff if you have a handy convenient way to move it around the store. That is just ‘Basic Shopping Skills 101’.

Yesterday, I did not stop outside to get a buggy…it was cold and I figured that I could find an empty one somewhere along the way. Well, I did find one…sitting by itself…over to one side…looking all alone and empty. It was in my sight, and I was making a bee line for it, when I heard a lady say to some other women nearby, “Is this your buggy?” “No,” they replied,”but I don’t think you will want it.” The lady said,” Oh, it’ll be fine…these things are heavy.” And with that, she quickly dropped her assortment of goodies into the cart, and proceeded down the aisle. I noticed the other group of women smiling at each other. OH. MY. GOODNESS. That was the worst sounding buggy I have ever heard. It sounded as if someone had tied tin cans to the wheels….and with every turn of the wheel, the tires jumped instead of rolling smoothly…and it would sort of shimmy and shake while it was making all those noises. I am not exaggerating…you could hear that buggy all over the store! That poor lady, turned around and looked back at the group who had warned her, and she said,”I see what you mean.” However, she kept right on going. I went in another direction, and got distracted by the wonderful selection of purses that always calls out to be touched and considered. Soon, I didn’t hear the buggy any more…the horrendous sound stopped. I figured she had made it to the checkout lane and was waiting patiently for some disembodied voice to tell her “Register # 3 is available. Please move to register #3.”

I made it through the sea of purses, and on past the shoes, and entered Christmas Land. Oh the pretties that were waiting for me there. Look, here’s a big mercury glass ornament to add to my collection…and another. And, look at this cute rug…the Creek House would LOVE to feel this caressing its floors. I began to realize that I was going to have to find a buggy or leave these treasures for someone else. And, that was not going to happen. I walked over toward the kitchen things…because they put a kitchen in the Creek House, even though I told them it wasn’t necessary. I spied a buggy…and set forth …with haste…to seize it for my own. I made it and carefully cradled my ornaments and rug inside, and set off in search of more. WHOA, NELLY! It was the same buggy from the front of the store…the one that sounded like some horrible creature from an unholy place…jumping and shimmying and shaking! People were looking. I quickly got my stuff out and left it pretty close to where I found it. Wrapping my ornaments in my rug…I ventured on. Next came the aisle of decorative objects. My, what a conglomeration of things here. All in a pile and a mess and a jumble. And, guess what else I found? A little old man, dressed so nicely in his khakis and jacket…beautiful white hair.

Now, I just knew something fun was about to happen…due to all the encounters I had had during the past few weeks. Sure enough, he was headed straight for me, and was about to speak. “Hey, there, pretty lady, I need some help,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes. And, I knew not to be worried since he obviously had fine taste in women. “I’m looking for something called a ‘dirty santa’ gift, and I really do not know what that is,” he explained, “they just said to get a dirty santa gift under
$10.00.” So, I explained what it was, and he looked around and said, “I don’t like to give things that are risque, I just don’t think that’s proper.” “No,” I told him, ” the ‘dirty’ part is when you steal it from someone.” “Steal it?” he asked. “Well, that comes when you are playing the game at the party,”I explained. So we looked around, and I found a box of 12 shiny purple balls for the tree. I told him that those would be a good gift. “But, they are ugly,” he said,”I couldn’t give those to anybody.” I told him that was OK, some of the gifts would be junky. He said…and I promise you this is the gospel…”Well, I could just take some of that mess my wife, she’s recently deceased, used to make. She called them crafts, but they weren’t nothing but junk. She liked doing it, but nobody wanted any of it.” He stopped for a minute, and then said, “Oh, I better keep that stuff around, though. It makes me laugh, and I could never give her stuff away.” “Oh,I think you should keep her things, too…especially if they make you laugh,” I told him.

He started walking away, and bent to pick up a vase shaped like a giant conch shell. It was very poorly painted, and not a very good likeness of a shell really. “Now, what about this?” he said, “this is something they could really use if they got it. And it is only $6.99.” “I think it’s perfect, sir,” I said. And, he put it in his buggy and walked on away, but turned at the end of the aisle, and said, “Thank-you, pretty lady, for taking the time to help an old man. You’re very kind.” “My pleasure, sir. Enjoy your party,” I replied.

I moved on down to where the lamps and pillows were, and found a wonderful, soft, cuddly throw that would be perfect for a person on my list. I carefully took it with my free arm, and started toward the checkout, because I was overloaded…what with me not having a buggy and all. I did want to look at the men’s socks, though. And, they were on the way to the checkout. There, amidst the boxers and briefs and handkerchiefs with a monogram…was an empty buggy. “Great!” I thought. And since no one was around, I figured it was placed there providentially…just for me…since I had been kind to the old man. “Thank you, Lord” I said quietly. Carefully placing my items inside, I headed for the socks.

You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? You know…you know that it was the same shimmy, shaking, tin can sounding, jumping wheel buggy, don’t you? Well, you’re right…it was. I figured God was probably really getting a kick out of this, too. That buggy had probably been through countless people since I first made its acquaintance. I had found it in 3 different areas of the store. How many people had thought they had found a buggy for the taking…only to abandon it quickly when they heard its song? I took my stuff, held it tightly to my chest…and headed straight to the checkout line. I happened to see the ‘dirty santa’ man a few people in front of me. He smiled, at me and said, “Looks like you should have gotten a buggy, pretty lady.” “Believe me,” I said, “I will next time!”