Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gift Cards and Fire Pits

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. " 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.



Tater Mama said...

The whole post made me smile! This was great and I'm glad you shared it with us!

Rachelle said...

Glad y'all had a fun night and you were so smart to buy another gift card with that one! Now you will have another year of dolled up date nights to look forward to! FUN STUFF!

Smilingsal said...

That's creative thinking to buy a new card with the old card. Now, use it!

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

What a fun night--glad you were able to use the old card to get a new one :)

Rach@In His Hands said...

Jackie, that sounds like a fabulous evening! I'm so happy that the gift card worked for you - what a bummer it would have been if it hadn't!
I was just telling Josh that we need to go find a cheesy light display in town. :-)

RosyRose said...

Hey Jackie...I am so much like that too! I can't stand the thought of buying something than finding it on sale later!!!! Good thinking with the exchange for a new card! I wouldn't have thought of that but I will now! And oh my goodness the funny things 3 year olds say:)!!!

Krystal said...

I am just like you! It makes me sick to my stomach to lose money! I am so happy you thought to buy a new gift card! Good job!

SarahHub said...

It sounds like a lovely evening! And you are so smart to have just bought a new gift card! Enjoy your free meals in '09!

Sara@ Butterville said...

Oh that sounds wonderful! All except the part where you had missed the deadline. I don't "get" expirations on giftcards. I think that is really mean!
I'm glad it all worked out.

Jamie @ Purposeful Pursuit said...

What a wonderful night!!! What a great idea to buy another gift card with the gift you can use it without worrying.

Wendi @ Every Day Miracles said...

The "poopy" comment - I am still lauging hard. SO something my kids would've said...

Evenings like that are so special. :) I have several memories like that and I just love to think about those times. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Jennifer @ Taking My Time said...

And by your description, I felt like I was there.

I don't think I commented on your home tour. The pics were lovely. I like your style.

I responded to your last comment by email. Let me know if you don't get it and I will answer your questions on my blog.

I would have been sick over "losing" a 100 dollar gift card as well. Glad you secured it!

Anonymous said...

How sweet! What a fun night!

Growin' with it! said...

you are one smart cookie! brilliant thinking on the gift card saving. and your daughter is a riot. poopy!!

Tracy's Porch said...

Sounds like a wonderful night. I laughed out loud at Savannah's comment.

I love seeing Christmas through Ashley's eyes. It makes it all so magical again.

Smart about the gift card!

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

Oh Jackie, I'm rolling! What a fun night, but I can't imagine you didn't bust out laughing when Savannah said "poopy!" How collected and refined you are. :-)

Love that about the gift card, too. I know you would have sulked over losing all that money for at least 6 months! But y'all were very smart about it by not just tossing it.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Aspiemom said...

I'm so glad you got to use your gift card! Whew, close call, eh? Smart thinking to buy another g.c. with the remainder.

That "poopy" comment was hilarious!

jennifer said...

that's so funny! poopy!

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

Oh man, that would have bothered me so much, too... losing a perfectly good $100. Glad it all worked out!!

sara said...

I smiled through this whole post!!!

but I have to say that my stomach dropped too when I thought you had lost that gift card!!! I have done that before and it is not a good feeling! How smart to think of buying a new gift card!!!! kuddos to you!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I'm so thankful your gift card wasn't expired!!! That would have made me sick for you to lose that $$.

LOVE that you were able to enjoy some time around the fire pit. It sounded like a lovely time.

ttm said...

I'm so glad you were able to use your card! And buying a new one was a brilliant idea!

The Fritz Facts said...

I am glad that you were able to use the gift card, and find a way to keep on using it. Very cool.

I love the things that come out of kids mouths. They are wonderful.