It was the perfect day. The kids slept in until 8 o’clock and then our two little people crawled into bed with me and my husband. The four of us cuddled under the covers, watched Disney Junior, played peek-a-boo, and stayed nestled in our warm little cocoon for over an hour.
We ate breakfast together and then started putting up our Christmas tree and all of our holiday decorations. Finding Nemo was on the TV, the kids were playing (mostly) well together, and we just relaxed.
It was 1 pm and we were all still in our pajamas. This never happens at our house, but today it was basically my definition of heaven.
And it was only going to get better. After naps, my husband and I decided to take the kiddos on an adventure–the zoo has their annual “Festival of Lights” celebration, lighting up the zoo with what looks like a billion Christmas lights. It’s one of my favorite Christmas activities. Walking around with my family, holding each others’ hands, sipping hot chocolate–it’s the definition of Christmas magic.
We just had to make a short pit-stop first. Destination: Target.
I needed to pick up just a few things–more Christmas lights for our family room, new mittens for my son, and toothpaste. The four of us headed in–I put my son in a cart and my little girl stayed close by.
We went through the check-out line and the cashier was so nice to my kids as I paid–she gave them some stickers and made them feel special.
We packed everyone and everything up in the car and were on our way.
It was about a 40 minute drive and the whole way we were talking about all the animals we wanted to see. We had our list finalized: first the giraffes, then on to the lions, gorillas, and elephants. Over and over we talked about how exciting it was going to be and how much fun we were going to have.
We parked the car and I started getting all our bags and gear organized.
And then I realized it.
I looked in the diaper bag, under my seat, in our bags from Target…but it wasn’t there. My wallet was missing.
We’re pulling everything out of the car–I JUST had it at Target.
“Your wallet’s missing???” I looked at my husband…I didn’t want to answer. I called Target, praying that someone found my wallet and turned it in…but no luck. “OK–get in the car–we need to call our bank and head back to Target.”
The looks on my kids’ faces killed me. They started crying. “But we want to see the animals…we’re not going inside the zoo? But why? We want to see the lights.” There were a lot of tears–including many from me.
How could this happen???
We went to Target and searched the cart carrell–nothing. We went inside, back to the sweet cashier who gave us the stickers–nothing. We talked with guest services–they paged all employees to look. We re-traced every step from where we paid to where our car was parked, but still no wallet.
Standing in the front of the store, in front of all the other customers, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I was making a running list in my mind of everything that was in the wallet: all my credit cards, my license, gift cards, cash, insurance cards, military ID….pretty much everything.
We headed back home. I was angry with myself, confused by where my wallet could possibly be , and worried that someone dishonest would find it.
My daughter was now trying to cheer me up. “It’s OK, Mom. I know–how about we split up and we can all look for it together?” My little girl, the problem solver. My husband was also trying to lighten the mood, pointing out the Christmas lights we saw on the houses.
When I got inside, I only had one glimmer of hope left; I went and checked our home phone. And then I breathed the biggest sigh of relief you could imagine–the police department called…someone found my wallet.
I called the police station back and they told me that a woman called and was going to bring it to the station later, but she left her phone number–I could call and see if I could meet her to pick it up in person instead.
My fingers couldn’t dial the number fast enough. I started crying when the woman on the other end asked, “Are you Kelly?”
Luckily she was close by. She was going out to dinner, so we decided to just meet at the restaurant.
I was literally jumping for joy! My kids were clapping and yelling “Yea!!!!!” My husband gave me a hug. Talk about a Christmas miracle.
When we pulled into the parking lot, the woman was already waiting for me. I asked if she was still planning on eating dinner, and when she said yes I told her I’d meet her inside.
I wanted to re-pay HER kindness, so I did the only thing I could think of: I bought gift cards to the restaurant so I could treat her to dinner.
I handed her the cards–she said it wasn’t necessary. Yes, it was. I started crying again–this time, happy tears. This woman didn’t have to do the right thing. She could have stolen my money, taken my credit cards…she could have left the wallet in the cart for someone else to find. But she didn’t. I was so grateful for her honesty, buying her dinner was certainly the least I could do and she finally accepted.
We hugged in the restaurant lobby. She smiled, trying to help me stop crying and simply said, “Merry Christmas.”
Yes, Merry Christmas, indeed.
My Christmas Challenge was created to challenge ME to do acts of kindness, but today I was definitely the one on the receiving end. I was reminded that good people are still all around, people who will do the right thing and help a stranger.
And I also believe my family completed an equally beautiful act of kindness as well–they showed me grace and forgiveness. My husband never yelled…never made me feel bad about my mistake (although I’m sure he could tell I felt bad enough)…he called the bank for me, he tried to help. And my kids…while they were initially heartbroken that our adventure didn’t turn out the way we hoped, they were so quick to forgive and then try to cheer me up.
More than the lights and hot chocolate, THIS is the definition of Christmas magic.