So, last Saturday evening, we went to our favorite resort here in town for dinner. It had suddenly occurred to me sometime last week that the gift card we had received from Ricardo's previous boss for Christmas last year was somewhere around a year old, and I began to wonder if it had an expiration date. I called on Thursday, the 11th, to check on it, and they informed me that yes, it would expire a year from the purchase date. Ok, fine, I thought, we probably have a few weeks left.
Then I happened to rummage through Ricardo's dresser that afternoon and found the envelope it came in. You can imagine the sinking feeling I felt when I read, Expires December 8th.
4 days! We had missed it by just 4 days. I was so bummed. There was over $125 left on the card, and I could not believe that we had just thrown the equivalent of 5 free meals down the drain. That gift card had been a little bright spot to us in an otherwise financially tough year; we always felt like we were on a mini vacation when we went to the resort for dinner.
But when I talked to Ricardo about it that night, we started to wonder if it was really the truth, if their system had actually cancelled it out, or if we could try to get in a few more times. I know that sometimes gift card policies are somewhat lax, and so we decided it was worth a try.
So we got all dolled up (well, Savannah and I did - Ricardo probably would not appreciate that term being applied to him) and made the trek to the other side of the city. I checked first with the front desk, handing them my card and asking the balance, and they never said anything about it being expired, which made me feel better. But I still held my breath as I handed over the gift card to the cashier when we entered the restaurant buffet. I guess she didn't catch the surreptitious glances that Ricardo and I threw each other, because she smiled at Savannah as she chatted with us, and then said, "Here you go! Enjoy!"
As we ate, we speculated on why the card was still good, and wondered how much longer it would be before it was cancelled out of their system. Perhaps they left it in the system until the end of the year? Maybe it really never expired and they just told people it did to get them to use it faster? Such was our fascinating dinner discussion.
And then, that is when I came up with the brilliant idea of buying a new gift card with the old one, adding on a few dollars for good measure. I sent Ricardo to the front desk to do the deed, while Savannah and I wandered around the lobby admiring the 25 foot Christmas tree.
Then Ricardo walked toward us, new gift card held triumphantly in hand.
And I feel so much better knowing that $100 didn't go to waste. You have no idea how that bothered me.
We glanced outside as we passed the doors that led to the pool area, and noticed that at the far end of the courtyard there was a fire pit burning. It wasn't terribly cold, just enough to remind us that it was December, so we strolled outside. As we approached, we noticed another couple, middle-aged, snuggled together in a cozy manner by the fire pit. I didn't want to interrupt, and so we started to veer in a different direction, but the lady leaned forward and called to us that we were welcome to join them. We thanked her as we greeted them and then settled ourselves onto the pillow-covered bench, gazing into the fire. It wasn't a real fire, but rather a gas fire with somewhat fakey-looking flames flickering about on a bed of small dark rocks. It was a perfect evening, with the mountains standing darkly in the background, an almost-full moon about to make an appearance, and soft music wafting over the air in romantic waves.
Savannah, who was oohing and ahhing over the leaping flames, suddenly noticed the rocks, and with just a few words shattered the mesmerizing ambiance.
"Mama!" She gasped, with amazement evident in her voice. "Mama...is that....poopy?"
A titter rippled from the couple, as Ricardo and I rushed to assure her that it was not, in fact, poopy. "It's rocks, baby," I said, even as my voice shook with laughter.
"Ohhhhh! Rocks! Not poopy..." the confusion was cleared up.
Sometimes I wish I were 3 and could get by with saying whatever I wanted like that. Oh, the innocence.
We stayed a few minutes and watched the moon burst above the mountain, and then the cold started to creep in and we made our way back to the car. Ricardo surprised us by taking us to a Christmas light display here in town. It was admittedly a bit cheesy, but Savannah loved it, and in seeing it through her eyes, it was easy to experience the magic of it.
It was just one of those nights that you wish would never end.