Any shopping trip to The Devil's Playground (Walmart) is usually a bad one, but nothing is as traumatizing as frequenting that hell hole on December 26th. The lines, the people, the plethora of patrons wearing Mickey Mouse pajama pants tucked inside knock-off Ugg boots, all contribute to a horrid occasion that requires a Xanax and a fifth of anything 100 proof.
As I drove to Walmart last year on December 26th, I told myself that I must have been stark-raving mad, but I had things that desperately needed returning. I had to unload that craft kit with 2 million small beads that a relative had bought before my daughter remembered that she'd un-wrapped it the previous morning. She'd also gotten four Barbie dolls too many and two identical Cabbage Patch Kids. Our play room already looked like it had digested a Toys "R" Us and then vomited all over the place, so I was eager to return toys that she didn't really need. I would get cash back for the toys and put it in her piggy bank. She'd thank me for keeping her piggy bank full one day when she was living on her own and too broke to buy toilet paper.
As I stood in the return line and watched people, I became extremely impatient. I shifted my weight from foot to foot and sighed loudly. I didn't want to be there. I wanted to be at home watching The Golden Girls DVD box set that I'd received on Christmas morning. But, alas, there I was.
I was one whiff of B.O. away from some serious lid-flippage when suddenly a strong notion came upon me. I tried to quiet the voice in my head, but it continued to compel me to do something that I had no desire to do.
I eyed the lady in front of me with three small girls tugging on her leg. The family looked poor. The children were without coats, and they had dirty faces and ratty hair. The mother kept a patient voice with the children, asking them to wait just a little bit longer and they would soon be able to go home.
"You are ready to get out of here, aren't you? Give her the things you want to return," the still voice spoke.
"Give them to her? What do you mean give them to her? This is my stuff. I'm not giving her my stuff," I argued.
I ignored the thought and watched a couple of Goth kids make out near the bathroom entrance. I swallowed the vomit that threatened to escape my lips when the voice spoke again.
"Give her the toys."
"I'm not giving this woman these toys. If I give her two million beads, she's liable to punch me in the throat. She doesn't want these toys. I can get money for these toys -- money for my children."
I thought about my kids the morning before as they opened an abundance of gifts. They'd received so much that they didn't even realize the things in my basket were missing.
"Give her the toys."
"I don't wanna!" I pouted.
I was familiar with the voice. I knew I couldn't argue with the voice. Some may call it their conscience. I call it God.
I sighed and tapped the lady on the shoulder, "Ma'am," I cleared my throat.
She looked at me with kind, tired eyes surrounded by crows' feet. She brushed a strand of gray hair away from her forehead as the small girls tugged on her legs and whined.
"Yes?" she asked.
"Would your little girls like to have these toys?" I nodded to my basket full of returns.
"What?" her eyes widened as she glanced at my basket.
"Would your children like to have them?"
She was speechless. This woman was speechless, and I swore that tears were about to well up in her eyes. I thought they may well up in mine, too.
"Have them? You want my girls to have them?"
"You'd be doing me a favor. I can't stand in this line a moment longer. I had a strong feeling to ask if you'd like them for your little girls."
"You have no idea," she shook her head. "You have no idea what that means to me."
I began loading her basket with the bead set, the Cabbage Patch Kid and four glittery Barbie Dolls as the excited girls watched.
"Merry Christmas," I said.
"God bless you," she replied as I nodded and exited the line.
I didn't want to go to Walmart that day, but I went. I didn't want to give the lady my kids' toys, but I did. Sometimes doing what we don't want to do is exactly what we're supposed to do.
Susannah Lewis is a freelance writer, blogger, aspiring best-selling author, wife of one and stay at home mother of two. You can find her humor blog, Whoa! Susannah, at whoasusannah.com.