A shopping miracle just in time for the holidays

Judy Markey

December 12, 1990|By Judy Markey | Judy Markey,United Feature Syndicate

AS THE HOLIDAY season approaches, one's thoughts, of course, turn to miracles.

Shopping miracles.

Not that it wouldn't be really swell to experience your nice peace-on-earth miracle, or your nice good-will-toward-men miracle, but let's face it, hon, right now the main kind of miracle you need is your all-purpose, just-this-once-and-I'll-never-ask-for-anything-again shopping miracle.

Today we tell you of just such a miracle. To let you know that they really can happen, and that you must never, we repeat never, give up hope. Like Susanne almost did.

Because for six months Susanne has been looking for Richard's Christmas present. And she has known exactly what it is. And if you are anywhere over 38.3 years old, you will know exactly what it is too. Because what it is, is this squat, oval, silver-plated Ronson table lighter. A lighter that sat on almost every coffee table in almost every house you ever walked into during the '40s and '50s.

So, last year when Susanne saw one of these lighters in a used-furniture shop, she went into this sentimental swoon over it and insto-bought it. Because it reminded her of her childhood, when she would watch from the top of the stairs while her mom and dad had their friends over. And they'd all drink martinis, and the ladies wore seamed stockings, and they'd laugh at secret grown-up things, and everyone seemed so soigne and mysterious. Boy did that Ronson lighter trigger some Technicolor movies in her memory bank.

And the weird thing is, everyone who saw it on Susanne's table felt the same thing. They grew all melty and misty-eyed. Especially Richard. Who was new in Susanne's life, and major in Susanne's life, and had grown up far away from Susanne's life, but was transported to the same time zone when he saw that Ronson lighter. So Susanne knew for sure that she wanted to find one for him.

Thus began the quest. By foot, by fax and by phone to resale shops all over. And everyone in the resale shops said the same two things: 1) They all knew exactly the lighter Susanne was describing, and 2) They didn't have one in. So after six months of this, it's no surprise Susanne had almost given up hope. But then the Miracle Machine kicked in. Because last Sunday, Susanne phoned a Hadassah Resale Shop in Highland Park, Ill. And after the lady said thing No. 1 and thing No. 2, she also said thing No. 3. She said, "I think I have one of those lighters at home. I got one for a wedding present. Forty-five years ago."

Forty-five years ago, and the lady still had it.

Not only did she have it, she volunteered to look for it. Not only did she look for it, she actually found it. Not only did she find it, it was in mint condition -- still wrapped in the original paper, never used. For 45 years it had been sitting in a dining room drawer -- who knows, maybe waiting for Susanne's call. It was an incredible moment in supply-and-demand land. Incredible.

So remember, as you look at your list and despair, that miracles do happen. And at holiday time they can happen anywhere -- miracles don't just happen on 34th Sreet, or in Bethlehem, but the fact of the matter is that your basic Christmas miracle can happen right in the middle of the Hadassah Resale Shop.

So baby, keep the faith. Actually keep the faiths.

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