All who wander are not lost

By Jack Godbey

Community columnist

As hard as it is to believe, the holiday season is upon us. Yes, once again it’s time to go out and buy gifts that we cannot afford and play the let me guess what you need game. That’s the game where we have to all become mind readers to figure out what gift someone may need.

It seems to me that if we have to participate in this whole gift exchange thing that gift cards would be the perfect solution. Instead of receiving a Hawaiian shirt that is two sizes too small, I could use the gift card to purchase something I would actually use.

I decided that I would get an early start this year on my gift buying, and this past weekend I went to the store to start the impossible mission. I wasn’t there long until I noticed a woman who had so many children I had to wonder if she lived in a shoe. The woman was trying her best to keep all the kids together and was herding them like a sheepdog down the aisle. I noticed that one of the boys that appeared to be no more than three years old with the remnants of a cherry sucker smeared on his face had caught his mother’s attention diverted and crawled inside a rack of clothing for some peace and quiet. I just stood there feeling jealous. People were buzzing all around me with carts going back and forth and I wished that I, too, could crawl inside that rack of clothes for a few moments of precious peace and quiet.

It didn’t take long for the little boy to be missed, and the mother was searching everywhere for him. As bad as I hated to rat the little guy out I pointed the mother in the right direction. To her, the boy had gotten lost, but to the boy, he was not lost at all. He knew exactly where everyone was. He just chose to not be a part of it.

As I stood there in the store, I was reminded of a story from my childhood that I have heard my mother tell on numerous occasions. Our house was full of kids with me being the youngest. I had decided to remove myself from the chaos of the house with kids running around and playing. My mother noticed right away that there was one less kid running around, and when she could not locate me quickly, she went into a panic and gathered all the kids to form a search party. Living on a farm offered all sorts of hazards that a young kid could get into, and in my mother’s mind, I surely had succumbed to one of them. All the family was in a panic. They had searched the fields, they had searched the pond and every inch of the barn. Finally, when my mother had given up and realized that I had disappeared forever, she ran to her bed to cry and it was then that she saw it. There I was sitting there on my potty fast asleep between the bed and the wall with no idea that anyone was searching for me at all.

The moral of the story is this; just because someone appears to be lost doesn’t mean they are. Sometimes people are just off doing their own thing. My wish for this holiday season is for us all to give someone special some love and acceptance.  However, not receiving a Hawaiian shirt would be good, too.