Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Madness: Hunting Down Impossible Presents

It's that time of year again when even the most patient parents consider slipping out of the house and hiding under a tarp in the backyard until December 25th has come and gone.  And even though it is hot and humid here and about as un-Christmas-y as you can get, our family is gripped by Christmas fever.  My delightful children have been replaced by screaming hyperactive terrors belched forth straight from the Parental Punishment levels of Hell.  How my mother ever made it through those final days before Christmas with four kids whirling around her ankles is a mystery to me.  At least my dad could escape to the office when we were too much to take.

But, despite the fact that the girls are currently driving me crazy, I'd still like to get them something nice for Christmas.  As you can imagine, gift-giving on a boat takes some extra planning.  You can't exactly nip off the the store the night of the 23rd and expect to mop up your last-minute gifts.  For one thing, there usually is no store.  But, for once, we are somewhere completely first world in terms of available commercial goods.  Being a French territory, New Caledonia is well-served out of France.  But since I hadn't planned on being here and I wanted things like English-language books, I did the bulk of my shopping months ago.

The girls made their Christmas lists about six weeks ago.  As the ultra-prepared boat children they are, they wanted to give Santa and me time to get everything sorted out between us.  Stylish handed me her list; I cast a critical eye over her choices.  She won't get it all, but good ideas.  No surprises there.

I took Indy's list from dictation.  Lego, fine, fine, disco ball...
"A disco ball?" I asked.  "You want a disco ball for Christmas?"
"Yeah," she said.  "It's like a ball with little mirrors all over it and it sparkles in the light."  Indy made arm-waving sparkle gestures.
"Yes, thank you, I am familiar with the concept of a disco ball," I said.  "Why do you want one?"
She shrugged.  "I don't know.  They're neat.  They sparkle."  She started waving her arms again.
"Okay," I said, sure the idea would be forgotten by tomorrow.  "Moving on."

But the disco ball idea didn't die.  It came up frequently.  The sparkle arms grew ever more frenetic.  And then, Indy came home from school with a letter written to Père Noel.
It's the typical I've-been-good-in-school-please-bring-me-stuff form letter.  Let's take a closer look at what she asked for.

Un dragon et une boule disco.

That's right.  A dragon and a disco ball.

Something had to be done.

And so I started looking.  And looking.  And looking.  My casual search morphed into a wild-eyed hunt.  I remembered seeing little disco balls in the Dollar Store back home; surely they would have something like that here?  Nope.  In Chinatown?  No.  In one of the touristy junk shops?  Still no good.  I looked at the letter to Santa again.  There is no way I can produce a dragon for this child on Christmas morning.  So, one way or another, it would have to be a ruddy disco ball.

Erik was going into town; I grabbed him by the labels and begged him to find a disco ball.  Off he went.  And came home empty-handed.  I deflated on one of the cockpit benches.
"Well, I found one."
"What?"  I sat up.
"Three, actually."
I looked at his hands.  Still empty.  "Then why didn't you buy one?!?"
"They were expensive."
That sobered me.  When Erik says "expensive", he means "exorbitant."
He described what he had seen.  The balls were big, and mirrored, and some had little light displays.  Totally over the top.  I slid down the bench again.

This morning, after pulling the girls apart from their third argument of the day and sending Indy off to school, I found this selfie that Stylish took yesterday.

As I gazed at those happy faces, my Grinch's small heart grew three sizes.  When Erik set off on more errands, he asked me about the disco ball.
"Buy it," I said.
I nodded.  It made me sick - all that money for a styrofoam ball with bits of mirror glued to it.  But short of making one myself and nicking an artery in the process, this was the only way.

And hour later, Erik and Stylish were back.  And what to my wondering eyes did appear, but Santa Erik with my Christmas wish come true!
I am the best of all the dads.
"You found one!" I cried, turning the precious object over and over in my hands.
"It was tucked in with the Christmas decorations," he said.
I looked up.  "I told you to look with the Christmas decorations."
"Yes, good for you, you're brilliant," said Erik.  "They weren't there last time."
"Well, thanks."
"De nada."

The ball is covered in sequins, but it will sparkle (waving arms) just as well as a mirrored ball.  And when the sequins fall off, Stylish has kindly offered to sew them onto a shirt for her sister.

And that is how Erik and Stylish saved Christmas.  And, after all that, if Indy doesn't like it?  Maybe I'll take my Christmas chocolate and go have a break under that tarp after all.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant, sparkly, shiny: This will be a Christmas to remember for Indy for sure. Your Grinch heart must be so BIG
Love Mom

Anonymous said...

Well done! That's teamwork! Looks like it's a lot warmer there than it is here, we have like a foot of snow and it's been cold for what seems like forever. I am sooo envious! Merry Christmas to you guys- team Papillion. John M

Mitchell World Tour said...

Awesome! We have been thinking of you a lot lately. Last week when making the crossing from Spain back to the UK, we were all so sea sick, was wishing I had some Sea Legs meds, that is for sure. I don't know how you do it. Last night we watched the live feed of the Carol Service at HSC. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the new year. The Mitchells.