this is the story of how if tried to buy joy at lowe's but found it for free at walmart.
during an overly-ambitious excursion to tappahonnock, and a ridiculously long trip through lowe's where i used my cart like a walker and purchased random supplies for various projects, i noticed holiday things were 50% off. so i added a wooden "joy" sign to my cart. i rejected the "hope" sign as too results-dependent, and "peace" was too overwhelming and way beyond my control.
as i threw the stuff in the back of my car, i noticed that "joy" was broken. i dragged myself back into lowe's to the returns desk where i explained that joy was broken. "you see, here, part of the J is missing. can i just leave this one here and go find another?"
"do you have your receipt? i have to return this one and then ring up another one."
"do you really want me to go back out to my car, root around through all the bags, and then come back here just so i can replace this with one that isn't broken?"
"yes." fine. i go back to the car, search through everything and can't find it. oh, wait--there in the bottom of my purse under all the other miscellaneous papers. i return to the cashier and present my receipt, then i sit down on a lumber cart, exhausted. i think she may have felt a little bad then because she became somewhat solicitous and brought me the receipt to sign so i didn't have to get up. finally, transaction completed, i clutch "joy" and get back in the car, feeling anything but joyful.
on my way out of tappahannock, i pass the walmart. one last chance to pick up something that i couldn't find at lowe's. so once angain i wander through the aisles, leaning on my cart like i am 105 years old. i find the aisle where the item should be and they are out. so i go up and down the aisle, as if it will miraculously appear if i look long enough.
i find myself face to face with a girl pushing her mom's cart, probably around eleven years old, not at all precocious, just a kid, just a little bit pudgy, her long light-brown hair frizzie and framing her open face. she smiles at me, i smile back. she smiles even bigger, looks right into my eyes and says, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" (somewhat unexpectedly, this being the 29th of december). "merry christmas to you too!"
i am pretty sure she was an angel. my joy was restored.