© 2004 Joan Wester Anderson
Last week Wal-Marts held their after-Thanksgiving sales around the country, and Ruby Whitehurst wouldn’t have dreamed of missing hers. “I work with a young, single, wonderful mother who I will call Jessie,” Ruby says. “Jessie is from Puerto Rico and she has two little boys, and a two-year-old daughter, Brianna. Jessie struggles to pay bills and buy the kids the necessities of life, and since we only get paid once a month, it’s not easy.” As the holidays approached, Ruby could sense that Jessie was becoming anxious. (Big-hearted Ruby also has a sister, a single mother, with three children. Every year she tried to see that there is something in their stockings too.)
Ruby had already mentioned to Jessie that she would provide a gift for each of Jessie’s children, and asked for ideas. Shyly, Jessie mentioned that little Brianna longed for a Cabbage Patch doll, and the boys wanted remote-control cars. They shouldn’t be too hard to find, Ruby thought on Thanksgiving Friday, as she entered Wal-Mart. The store was crowded, but Ruby was able to do some of her shopping. However, she didn’t see any Cabbage Patch dolls or remote control cars, so she picked up some other items for Jessie’s children instead, and went home. They would be grateful for anything, she knew.
Once at home, however, Ruby began to feel restless. “My spirit was telling me to purchase the Cabbage Patch baby and two remote control trucks,” she says. “So off to Wal-Mart I went, for the second time that day. As soon as I walked through the door, I saw a stack of very nice Dodge Ram remote control trucks. They hadn’t been there earlier, but what luck that they were now right by the door! I scooped up a red one and a black one.”
Now for the doll. There was a shelf right ahead of her with a few Cabbage Patch babies on it. But Ruby suddenly realized that she wanted a Hispanic doll. “Jessie isn’t a racist and neither am I,” Ruby says. “But I didn’t want a black or a white doll. I wanted Brianna to have a doll with brown skin and eyes, looking just like her.”
There was one doll that seemed close, and Ruby put it in her cart. But it just wasn’t right.. Ruby began to realize that an older woman had passed her several times, noticing her dilemma. Now the woman returned. “There’s another shelf of Cabbage Patch dolls, high up against the wall, at the back of the store,” the woman said. “Maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for there.”
“Oh! Thank you.” Ruby turned towards the back. What an odd place to put more dolls.. As she approached the wall, the same woman appeared ahead of her, turned, smiled and pointed to the display. Again Ruby thanked her.
The display was certainly high, and the babies all looked the same. Except for one possibility.. Ruby asked a young man to get that doll down for her. “They’re all the same,” he pointed out. “Just like the one in your cart,”
Ruby refused to back down. “I’d like THAT one,” she pointed again. Shrugging, the young man climbed up, retrieved the box and passed the doll into Ruby’s outstretched hands. Brown skin, brown eyes. Ruby looked at the doll’s birth certificate and gasped. “Consuelo Tavia” was the doll’s name. A Hispanic baby for a Hispanic child. And the only one there.
“I was thrilled all the way home, just thinking about it,” Ruby says. “The next day, Thanksgiving Saturday, I went back to Wal-Mart to get a few more gifts on my list.”
Perhaps she would buy another remote control car, she thought. But oddly, when she entered the store, that display was nowhere to be seen. Could they have sold the entire bin in one day? Not likely. They must be somewhere else.
Ruby looked up and down the aisles, but she was not able to locate the trucks, nor did the clerks know anything about the bin. She had reached the back of the store when she realized something else. Although she was standing in the exact spot as yesterday, there was no wall display of Cabbage Patch babies there, nor did the wall look as if there had ever been anything on it.
“I think the angels are taking very good care of me this Christmas,” Ruby says. And why not? Her generous soul receives its own gifts.
This story is used by permission from Joan Wester Anderson.