Today was a day of ups and downs. It started late and was filled setbacks and chance returns to being on schedule. Both Willy and I were afflicted, and had to overcome forgotten grocery lists on an early run before coffee, a forgotten wallet with a cart full of goodies at Canadian Tire, running out of money on a Christmas shopping tour and the normal hiccups that occur in the course of the day. Somehow we kept our sanity and managed to get most things done.
By the end of the day we had but one thing left on the to-do list, today’s 25 days of Christmas activity of donating our empty beer and wine bottles to the Christmas Exchange at out local beer store. I had mixed feelings about including this as a family activity, but we want to show the lils some of the small things that we can do to help others out, so we kept it on the list. As luck would have it, Willy ran in to some bad customer service while on the last set of errands late in the day so were rushed leaving the house. He had also noticed that the closest beer store was not collecting earlier in the day, so we headed to the bigger store near our house. I tried to verify that they were collecting and noticed that the bottle drive ended at 5:00pm. It was 5:02. We headed there anyway, figuring that we would at least cash in the empties and make a donation later if they were gone for the day.*
We arrived minutes later, and noted that they had been collecting donations at this location, but were gone. We parked the car and decided to get beer now too – we were at the beer store after all. I asked Willy if he and the lils were coming in, and he gave me the “why not” shrug. I ran in to get a cart** and he got the lils out of the car. Once I loaded the boxes on the cart, Woo asked if he could get on. We figured it was harmless, and let both he and Goose climb on. They were pretty cute about it, Woo putting his arm around her so she would not fall off, her eyes lighting up like it was the most fun she had ever had.
When I went in to get the cart, I had noted that there were a number of people turning in empties, and warned Willy of the potential wait. What I had not realized was that there weren’t actually a large number of people turning in empties, there two guys returning a lot of empty bottles and cans. I don’t mean a couple of carts full of empties, there must have been at least 50 two-fours, and many, many bags of cans. They entire beer store stank that really old stale beer smell, they were still unpacking, and we were behind them! Turns out that the line was allowed to move around them, thankfully. They unloaded cans the entire time we were there, faithfully counting them aloud. They kept asking for more garbage cans to put them in, the whole time we were there. That must have been quite the party!
I thought that the lils would get tired of the ride when we got in line and stopped moving, but they didn’t. They just kept asking us to keep them moving. So I did what any parent in this situation would do, I spun them around in circles, like an amusement park ride, empties and all. They loved it even more now, and kept saying “again Mommy, again!” It felt very wrong.
We got to the front of the line, and I emptied the cart. Goose and Willy had wandered off at this point, but Woo was still with me. As soon as he saw the cart was empty he pounced on it and, while I ordered the beer, drove it over to Willy. His sister hopped on the cart and he started pushing her around the store. I managed to convince him to drive her over to the cart corral, and steered them to join me in the entrance while waiting for Willy. I took my off of Goose and she made a gleeful break for the outside, right into the parking lot. I ran after her and managed to almost catch her as she tripped and went sprawling to the ground. Her hands were now dirty and her pride was hurt. She burst into tears.
I carried my howling little girl to the car, hanging my head in shame. How could such a well-intentioned outing go so bad? Did it really look as bad as it felt?? Usually when we go out, we get the occasional “look at how cute/busy/well-behaved your children” are comments. There were none of those tonight.
* we ended up donating online via their website
** yes, we needed a cart. It’s been a while since we returned empties, I swear!