The Annual Crying Day...it's not what you think
My eyes scan the area quickly for signs of lurking employees. It's as if I can FEEL their anxious eyes boring into me, just waiting for what they see as imminent disaster. And I can hardly blame them. After all, even a supermom cannot prevent EVERY disaster, and I have voluntarily placed myself in a situation that will require all my skills, all my training.
Here we are. The moment my kids have chattered about and I have prepared for since the last time we were here. The one place where time actually does stand still, only it's more like Matrix and I am moving in slow motion, beads of sweat forming on my brow as I move towards the imminent catastrophe.
The annual choosing of a Christmas ornament at Hobby Lobby.
I guide my excited daughters to the ornament area, which really should have a "KEEP OUT" sign for mothers and children. Happily for them, however, it is still legal for me to take my butter fingered kids to this dangerous land.
We arrive and they are starstruck, their eyes glazing over as they look up and around at the hundreds of glittering, jingling, beautiful ornaments they are to choose from. I remind them that they may choose one ornament that they feel a connection with this year, something that accurately portrays their personalities and interests. I'm still reminding them to choose something that has meaning, something they'll look back on with fondness and smile as they recall the special reason they chose their ornament when, in the middle of my inspiring speech, a glittery glass goldfish is shoved in my face.
A goldfish? First of all, fish have not had exactly the best run of luck with the Webbers. When I was a teacher, my fish actually committed suicide. I found them lying dead on the classroom floor next to the tank, ready to face death rather than another day under my care. At our house, one fish was euthanized when it showed even the slightest inkling of perhaps swimming sideways (if you turned your head just right you could really convince yourself that it was not well), the other was flushed for no other reason than 1.) the kids didn't care and 2.) Michael couldn't find the fish food. But hey, if that's what represents special meaning to my dear Olivia this year, then so be it.
My 28-lb. force of nature is by now running wildly thru the aisle, swaying dangerously close to fragile ornaments. I am pretty sure I see an employee sigh and standby with a broom and dustpan in hand.
Lauren chooses a Nutcracker ornament, which is actually a great one for her this year as she is obsessed with that play and we have watched it 19 times in two weeks. Olivia helps choose one for Leighanne (I cannot remember what it was since I was at this point holding her upside down by her foot as she lunged for the $35 crystal ornament of some kind).
We're finished! We did it! I gather my children and smile smugly at the broom-toting employee, whose heart almost audibly begins beating normally again as he watches us depart. Dare I say it? An ornament choosing expedition is actually going to end in success. No broken glass, no broken hearts.
And then, like in a race where you're two steps away from the finish line and your untied shoe lace trips you up, it happens.
WEEPING. WAILING. GNASHING OF TEETH.
Olivia is standing next to the carnage of her glass goldfish ornament on the floor which has exploded like someone put a firecracker inside it. Suddenly the smug smile is gone from my face and transferred to the employee, who is already making his way toward us.
I try to console my grieving child. Comforting children after an accident is part of my skilled training, after all. No big deal, I say, I'm sure in the hundreds of ornaments here we can find another one just like it.
We search. We scour. We look high and low (all while taking breaks to chase my toddler and pry her fingers off various fragile treasures and make her spit out the animal crackers she found on the floor). But alas, there is no duplicate of the precious goldfish, which of course causes even more pain and suffering. Seriously, how in the world did my daughter find the ONLY ornament in the whole store that doesn't have a twin?!
After much agony, another ornament is chosen. A lesser fish that will be tolerated, but not loved. I load my children in the car and breathe a sigh of relief that the annual day of choosing is over for another year. Will this tradition hold special memories for my girls in years to come? I hope so, but I don't know. I DO know that throughout the coming years my tree will be filled with ornaments that reflect their interests or just their whims at the time...and I will look back and smile. I pull out of the parking space and try to ignore the sight of that same employee lugging a trash bag of broken glass to the dumpster. Here's to making the moments count....sorry about that, Mr. Hobby Lobby man.