Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lost and Found

My six-year-old has developed a real affection for cooking.

He's become a pro at flipping pancakes and an expert at cracking eggs. More or less. So when I sat down to think up presents he might like this year, cooking gear was top of the list. As it turned out, that was a bit more challenging than expected. Plenty of stores offered tiny, babyish pots, pans and tools, but nobody seemed to have exactly what I was looking for, namely, tiny oven mitts. This may be because most people have the sense not to let a six-year-old stick his hands in a hot oven.

Yesterday was the day I set aside to finish up my shopping. Since I had a long and varied list, I started at K-Mart. If your goal is to squash the last drop of Christmas spirit right out of your soul, this is your place. I left with nothing more than a vague sense of anxiety and frustration. From there I headed to T. J. Maxx. My Christmas spirit was already limping and bruised. Two hours of aimless wandering later and it was on life support. By now it was pushing suppertime and I hadn't eaten since breakfast, so the plan was one more stop and call it a day. Heights Toy Center is only blocks from home, so that would be the final destination.

While they didn't have what I was looking for either, they were chock-full of what I had lost. Before I knew it, I was happily walking next door to Wordsworth, and across the street to The Toggery. And then around the corner to The Freckled Frog and on up Kavanaugh to Eggshells. As I walked, the cool air churned with a perfect sequence of delicious smells—Browning's Mexican Restaurant topped off with Starbucks. With each step, my spirits inched upward. As I shopped, the store owners and clerks took genuine interest in my search. If they didn't have what I wanted, they instantly suggested a neighbor store who might, like Kris Kringle kindly sending me to Macy's. If they did have something my budding chef might like, they patiently took me by the hand and showed me. Then they served me coffee and white chocolate macadamia cookies (dinner!). In each and every shop, there were more people behind the counter than in front of it. And all with smiles on their faces! I had stepped into a parallel universe.

When I returned to my car in the Heights Toy Center parking lot, I had a bag full of really cool child-friendly tools and a sweet "professional chef" apron, which I dropped off inside to have embroidered with his name. By the time I made it home, I still didn't have oven mitts, but what I had was much more valuable—a renewed sense of the season. Okay, I wasn't exactly thinking of baby Jesus in the manger. But I was thinking about the importance of simple human interaction, kindness, and peace. And I bet if Jesus had Christmas shopping to do, this is how he'd want to do it.

Merry Christmas! And if you find a pair of tiny oven mitts, give me a call.


Jomama said...

Susan, I know this won't be in time for Christmas--but try this link:

Also, something that might be VERY helpful (if you are related to a woodworker), is a wooden tool that can pull the oven rack out of the oven.

I have one (made by my late FIL) that is about 13 inches long. It has a notch at the end for pushing the oven rack IN, and a hook about 1/3 of the way down for pulling the oven rack OUT. That will make it easier for using regular old potholders.

Judy said...

Told you so!! About shopping in sweet little stores with quality and unique stuff.

As far as Daniel opening the oven...
not at my house please!

I'll give some thought to the mitts..he'll have them before he goes back to Arkansas, for sure!

As the way you tell a story. You make me proud. :)

Alecia said...

great story- I agree with shopping in the small shops- esp those independently owned like wordsworth- best customer service and the selection is outstanding. Merry Christmas