Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Ritz-mas Miracle

It's the season for stories of miracles and light. Christmas celebrates the joyful birth of baby Jesus in a manger under the stars, while Hanukkah re-tells the story of a temple lamp filled with one night's worth of oil, which miraculously burned for eight. Today, I'd like to share the tale of a very different miracle of light; my “Ritz-mas Miracle”.

Last year we decided to treat the family to a stay at a “Ritzy” hotel for the holidays. Despite the parking lot view, our accommodations were gorgeous; decorated with delicate things generally not found in rooms for adolescent residents. Certainly our brood would behave in such classy quarters, I thought. Illuminating the space was a beautiful oriental lamp. “Ming Dynasty?” I wondered.

Although we only claim three dependents on our taxes, our traveling troupe just wouldn't be complete without Mr. Panda and Squirrelly. As I was busy snatching up the amenity bottles in the bathroom, our plush pals began flying freely around the room. Suddenly Mr. Panda's flight plan came to a crashing halt. “Not the Ming Dynasty…” I whimpered.

I suppose I should have tuned this into a “teachable moment” for my children; about responsibility and respect for property - but I panicked. Instead, I taught my kids another important lesson I'd learned in college; how to spackle with toothpaste.

Unfortunately, the porcelain lamp didn't hide the paste quite as well as my dorm walls did. Even my daughter's “Mary Kate & Ashley AquaFresh” couldn't squeeze into the cracks. Desperate, I dashed down to the gift shop and grabbed some insanely overpriced Crazy Glue. “I need it to fix my husband's bull-horn belt-buckle”, I stammered. “He found it in a mud-caked Maasai hut in the Serengeti”, I went on, blabbering way too many made-up details as one does when concocting a lie on the fly. “Charge it to my room - the one with the perfectly lovely lamp.” I yelped, charging over to the reception desk.

“I'd like to borrow some tape for my son”, I continued creatively. “He needs it for his report on feral wallaby grooming habits.” “Madame, perhaps a stapler would be better?” the receptionist offered. “No, not since a horrible Swingline incident in school!” I quipped, lamely ducking into the elevator.

With the steady hands of a micro surgeon, (at least one who was freaking out at a fancy hotel), I carefully pieced the lamp back together. Though now it looked more mosaic than Ming.

Racked with guilt, I explained to my children that what I had done was wrong and no good could come of it. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. It was the hotel manager. Yikes! Perhaps the store clerk and receptionist were sharper than I'd thought. They'd probably just finished chatting in the break room where the two of them had been deducing clues of room-charged glue and borrowed tape. Like Sherlock Holmes and Watson, they were on to me.

“May I help you?” I asked the manager coyly, as a look of concern swept his face. I quickly prayed for a miracle to absolve me for my dark misdeed. “There's a problem with your room” he began and my heart slipped to where the belt on the terry hotel robe was tightly tied. “You see, this room is scheduled for renovation, and we have to move you”, he said. “I've taken the liberty of placing you in a deluxe suite with a stunning lighthouse view, at no extra charge.”

As we left the room, workmen filed in and began carting out its contents to the dumpster. Among the first items to go - that comely lamp. Turns out it wasn't Ming; it was Macy's. This was truly a “Ritz-mas Miracle”.

Happy holidays and merry "Ritz-mas" everyone - May the lights of the season shine brightly for you…but carry some Crazy Glue, just in case.


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