Today is CT's last day off from school for the "Winter Break" (remember the good old days when we used to call it Christmas Vacation?). I know - it's weird that he starts back up on a Tuesday...today is a teacher work day, kind of easing those teachers back into the daily grind. I actually like it that he has today off. Even though he is kind of crazy and certainly adds an element of chaos to our day I miss him when he's not around.
Anyway, today we ran a couple of errands. First we went to the library to return some items that we have had for three weeks - through no fault of our own I might add. I tried to return them on the day they were due, Dec. 23rd, only to find a sign on the library door saying the library was closed that day. That sign was right next to another sign I'd seen last time we were there that proclaimed the library would be closed the 24th through the 27th for Christmas, and then again on Dec. 31st. Fine. I tried returning them again on Dec. 28th only to find a new sign saying the library was closed that day as well. Fine. I don't mind them being closed for a long holiday - I just wish they would put up one accurate sign before the break starts, or update their voicemail greeting, or post it on the web site, none of which seems to be in their grasp. Finally, today, they were open again.
I told the kids that after the library we would run into Dollar General and check out their Christmas clearance items. I have a hard time paying full price for Dollar Store seasonal items and only ever feel good about the price/quality ratio when the goods are marked 75 percent off or more.
When we go to a store like that I usually let each child pick one item that costs no more than a dollar so they were all excited. The bad part about it is that they take about 45 minutes to choose an item that they will inevitabely forget about or break by the next morning. After much looking and discussing and reminders by me that it "must cost only $1" they each had something in their little hands and we headed to the check out. When we got there the cashier said to me "Oh, that man who just left wanted me to give this to you". And she hands me a bag with an "Ultimate Ninja Elite" action figure in it for CT and two "Glamor Girl and Puppy" sets for the girls. To say the kids were happy about it is an understatement - particularly the boy. As for me, this is the first time in my life I can recall something like this happening to me. I've heard stories like it before, of course. Who hasn't? But it's never actually happened. I was really touched that someone would do something like that. And then I began to worry that my kids looked like underprivileged orphans and I really should have redone their hair before we headed out to do our errands. Then I remembered that my friend had an experience where strangers paid for her family's dinner at IHOP, and her kids never look like orphans, so I took some comfort in that. Did my kids each need a new toy today? No. But they were super excited to get it - and more than that they got to experience first hand the benefits of kindness from strangers. I'm sure it is a story we will tell in our family forever. "Remember the time that man we didn't know bought us each a toy at the store? Just for no reason?". As a mother I am so thankful to that man, not just because he bought my children a toy they like, but because he provided an example of thoughtfulness and reaching out to others, an example of how an unexpected kindness can mean a lot. So thanks, man in the black cowboy hat, for truly making my day.
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