Today my kids wanted to head into town to shop. For Christmas I bought them Skylanders, a game for the Wii in which you place little characters on a game pad, and they appear inside the game on the TV. It’s really pretty cool – and they wanted to buy more character figurines. With their own money. Thanks be to generous grandparents.

I had a few things to return myself. After showing my youngest a sample of a rubber spatula that she could buy me for Christmas (because the metal ones scrape up my pans), she managed to not only buy me a metal one, but a spatula that weighed about 2 pounds. I’d have arms like Schwarzenegger after one morning of flipping pancakes. She also got me a cheese grater (have one!) and a rubber bowl scraper (have one too!). I spent all day Christmas debating whether to just keep the stuff she got me or fess up to her that it would be better to return it. I mean, she spent her own money for this stuff, and I’d hate the thought that it would sit in my drawers and cabinets unused for most of eternity. I opted for plan B.

Then there’s hubby. Hubby works massive hours during December and never has time to shop. I kept telling him that I didn’t need anything for Christmas this year. Money is really tight, and the best present he could give me is cash in the bank for gas and groceries. But, being the stubborn, thoughtful mule that he is, he ran out on Christmas Eve and got me a last-minute-right-as-the-store-was-closing sweater. While I appreciated the gesture, I barely wear sweaters because my office is always too hot, and like I said, I really need to have money on hand.

So, off to town we went on the day after Christmas – I think what is the 2nd busiest shopping day of the year. And you know what? It wasn’t bad at all.

I think it was because went with a plan. We want to buy these things and return these things. It came to a total of 4 stops. In and out. And for some reason there were no lines in any of the return counters. I attribute this to luck and the fact that I had nothing to return at Walmart, where the line is always long and as is required by the laws of nature, there is always a screaming child crammed in a shopping cart with a mom who is busy texting her baby daddy rather than quieting her kid.

I got home in time to put some chicken noodle soup on the stove for dinner. And the returning daughter #2’s presents wound up being a great call. For the $14.00 she spent on me, I managed to buy a super large rubber spatula (perfect for pancake flipping), a measuring cup (I only had one, and that was a serious drag) and a medium sized non-stick frying pan that was on super mark down. Now I can throw out my old, crusty, warped medium sized frying pan.

And the $20 I got back for the sweater hubby bought? Right into the gas tank. Now I can get to work until next payday.