How do I even begin to explain the escapade that happened tonight?
I put a lot of time and thought into Chanuka presents for my grandchildren. Yes, there is Amazon. But I try to shop at local merchants because they depend so greatly on the extra income this time of year; because they’re genuinely nice and pleasant people who I enjoy doing business with; because unlike online shopping, I like to look over the selection hands-on; and because sometimes I find something more unusual than the run-of-the-mill toys.
Keep in mind, I live 35 minutes from the nearest town (Bridgton) which has an old-fashioned department store similar to the Woolworths of my youth; my other option is 45 minutes away in North Conway, where I can always rely on Wal Mart when all else fails. But as any harried shopper knows, finding just the right gift for a particular person doesn’t usually happen in just one shopping expedition. Add snow, ice, and poor driving conditions to the mix and you’ll understand that when you finally do get those gifts, it is with great relief and satisfaction.
Eventually I did find what I wanted, and with great happiness I divided up the gifts in gift bags by family and put them by the door. These will go with us next week when we visit our former hometown, where two of my married sons live with their spouses and children. I also bought lots of boxes of fancy chocolates wrapped in gold bows for the people in my town who have given me great service throughout the year: my mailperson, the postal clerk, my car repairman, the workers at the town dump, our UPS man who never fails to climb our steep driveway in any weather, either by truck (or when weather is bad, by foot), and our plow guy. I mentioned the chocolates to my husband, because he is a chocolate addict and I knew they wouldn’t be safe unless I told him they were earmarked for others.
After today’s storm of 6″ – 8″ of snow, we knew our Plow Guy would be coming by sometime this evening. When I heard the scraping of the plow blade, I called out to my husband, “Quick! The Plow Guy is here! Grab a bag, go outside and give him his Xmas present!”
After he threw on a coat and boots, my husband exchanged pleasantries with Plow Guy, handed him the bag, and came back inside to get warm by the fire. We had made a “date” to spend the evening cleaning out our garage, when he brought down one of the bags of presents for the grandchildren to put in the car.
“Where’s the other bag?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” my husband replied. “I gave it to the Plow Guy, like you said!”
I literally screamed. “OH. MY. GAWWWWD!” I wailed.
Now a bag full of kids’ presents should be a clue to our Plow Guy that perhaps he got the wrong bag. But, he has a young child, so I’m assuming he’s thinking that we are the world’s most generous people to think of his little boy with SO. MANY. PRESENTS!
It’s possible we can get the bag back, but only if he hasn’t given them to his boy yet. And the thing is, sometimes our Plow Guy rides with his son in the truck, as one of those father-son bonding moments. So if the son was in the truck (my husband did hear another person in the truck, but he didn’t look inside as it was dark, so he has no idea if it was the Plow Guy’s partner or if it was his son) then that little boy is already in present heaven and has probably opened them all up out of sheer excitement.
“What do you want me to do?” my husband asked. (How about jumping off a cliff and me claiming the life insurance, I thought).
Well, we were due to be in our former hometown this coming week, presents in hand, and there was no way I’d be able to replace these presents in time (in many cases, I had bought the only or last one of a particular toy).
Grinch that I am, I said, “I’ll call and see if we can get the bag back, and give him his chocolates.” But I didn’t have Plow Guy’s cellphone number and no one was answering his home phone.
“Do you want me to go to his house?” my husband offered. It was 11 degrees outside, the roads were icy, and if Plow Guy’s family wasn’t home, it meant waiting in the heated car on a very wintry night outside his home until he’d get back, which could be hours. Over the next thirty minutes I kept trying Plow Guy’s home phone, but there was no answer.
“Well, do you want to resume cleaning up the garage?” my husband asked innocently.
“I’m not in the mood right now,” I grumbled. (He knew what that meant.)
Heck, our driveway was just plowed.
“Yep,” I said ten minutes later, with winter ice in my veins, “. . . I guess you’d better go. Take a book and a flashlight in case you have to wait around. And don’t forget the chocolates!”
When my husband got to their house, Plow Guy wasn’t back yet. But his wife – – and son!! – – were home. Sheepishly handing over the chocolates, he told them about the mistaken present hand-off. His wife was stifling a smile, although she broke into a full grin when my husband said, “my wife will divorce me if I don’t get those presents back.” My husband arranged to come by again tomorrow to pick up the bag.
The thing is, Stoneham is a small town: population 234 at last count. Not a whole lot happens here that is news. And Mainers love a good story, and our Plow Guy now has a wicked funny story to tell. You can be sure that every time I go to the local store, diner, post office, or talk to our UPS guy, we’re going to get LOTS of ribbing and be the town’s laughingstocks.
Like, until the day we die.
I know that someday, this is a story that will keep us laughing.
Like, maybe fifty years from now.