Eaton’s Department Store opened in 1975 and took up almost a third of the space in the Peterborough Square Mall.
It was an era when downtown shopping malls were a new thing and it was something of a destination.
One day, in the heat of the summer, my mother took me shopping in the downtown mall. I was allowed to roam free and play among the aisles in Eaton’s while Mom shopped close by.
I was milling around in the card section, looking for a suitable birthday card for my older brother when I spotted it.
Snoopy, with his nose turned up, doing a happy dance on a plaque. It was the perfect gift!
My brother loved Snoopy and I just knew he would love this plaque on the wall in his bedroom.
But I didn’t have enough money. I only had enough for a card.
I quickly looked around and when I figured no one was looking my way, I slipped it under my shirt.
When we returned home I quickly stole up to my bedroom and wrapped the plaque. I created a homemade birthday card to go with it.
But later, when my brother opened the gift, my mom gave me a sideways look.
She knew that, given my meager allowance, it would take months to earn enough cash to pay for that plaque.
And she called me on it.
Tearfully, I admitted that I had stolen the plaque.
The very next day, my mom marched me back to the Eaton’s store. She asked for the manager and explained how her daughter had stolen the plaque.
I was mortified.
I had to apologize and promise that I’d never steal again.
Although the store manager was very kind, I will never forget the look of disappointment on my mother’s face.
Making me admit my guilt to a stranger, return the goods stolen, and be grounded for weeks cemented the lesson in my young heart that stealing was wrong.
And every time I see Snoopy doing the happy dance, I am reminded.
You shall not steal (Exodus 20:15, NIV).
(First featured on Medium platform January 23, 2021)