Saturday, 3 January 2009

The tenth day of Christmas (slip-sliding away)

Gift certificates are a mixed blessing for someone who hates to shop. I mean, it really is looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I don't much care being sent out to shop for myself (and by extension, the Resident Fan Boy and younger daughter who aren't shoppers either) in the post-holiday crowds of shoppers.

So yesterday, we all set off for the forty-five-minute slog into downtown. Our challenge this time was steady snow and pavements slick with slush. Not quite two steps forward, one step back, but it felt like it. The gift certificates in question were the annual Chapters certificates from the girls' generous godparents. (Chapters, for non-Canadians, is probably the equivalent of Borders in the States, and I dunno, Waterstones in Britain?)

Elder daughter made a beeline for The Dark Knight, y'know, that other Christian Bale/Heath Ledger flick. Chapters seems to have done away with the family shelf in their DVD section, but we mosied over to "Musicals". Younger daughter gave a little gasp, and made the same reaching-for-then-pulling-her-hand-back gesture that she makes when trying to decide on a book or video at home.
"Do you see something you want?"
"I don't know."
"It looks like you see something interesting. Can you tell me what it is?"
"I don't know."
"Can you point at it?"
"I'm scared."
"Of the movie?"
"What are you afraid will happen?"
"You might say no."
"Well, it's your gift certificate, so you can choose whatever you want."
Another little gasp and aborted reach.
"I won't say no."
With an anticipatory smile, she pulls down South Pacific. Oh, damn, damn, damn. It's still under the tree, set aside as her Twelfth Day of Christmas present. I try to explain. She stomps off across the shop. I call after her. She says: "NO!" I can't blame her; it's my poor planning, and she's done that most difficult thing of making a choice, and I've said "no", just as she feared. We manage to talk her into getting The King and I
and I leave the Resident Fan Boy and elder daughter to do the certificate negotiation, and hastily get younger daughter to a nearby TexMex restaurant to restore us both.

After a hearty lunch, the RFB and elder daughter set off for the drug store, and younger daughter and I begin the 45-minute trudge-trudge-slip home. We cut up York Street past some funky little shops and pause to admire a Christmas bird sanctuary that one of them has set up: Then we make our way through the beat-up streets of Lowertown, stepping aside to let the sidewalk snow-movers (which look like orange earwigs) mow past us. I note that they are not laying down gravel, so we still slide further east, past the ice rink at the Catholic school where boys of different hues play pick-up hockey, some managing to skate through the snow covering the ice, some making do in their boots.

At home, I surreptitiously sneak South Pacific from the Twelfth Day of Christmas gift bag into the Tenth Day of Christmas gift bag.

That night, I invite younger daughter to watch Oliver! which was in the Eighth Day of Christmas gift bag. We get to the intermission before it's time for her bath and she comes to kiss me good night:
"Oliver is so strange!"
"Don't you like it?"
"Yes, but it's better than Elmwood School!" (We saw a cut-down production of the musical at the swish private school for girls a few weeks ago.)
"There's a lot of dancing, isn't there? And I think you like the costumes?"
"Yes, and Oliver was only a little girl!" she says, shaking her head in wonder, remembering the all-girl production.
"Well, in the movie, they could have a boy for Oliver, couldn't they?"

This morning, the Resident Fan Boy offers to take her tobogganing, and she enthusiastically accepts ("That's a great idea!") and delightedly plans to watch South Pacific afterwards: "I missed South Pacific so much!"

For myself, I'm accompanying elder daughter to her hated clarinet lesson downtown, and am planning to finally read younger daughter's assessment report which I'd set aside over Christmas. I need to ration out my heartbreaks like Christmas gifts.


bonnie-ann black said...

oh, the pain of having the perfect present for a child, who doesn't know it and can't accept the waiting part! i know just how you feel.

i also agree on gift certificates... i'm fine if it's books and records, but if it's to a major department store (like Macy's or Bloomingdale's) i freak out. i've been known to sell them rather than have to shop.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Was South Pacific eventually well received? I think you do such a great job with both your girls.

Persephone said...

South Pacific has gone over well. She discovered it at our house-sit in Victoria last summer and adores "Happy Talk" and "There is Nuthin' Like a Dame". I'm trying to explain why Nellie and Cabe are reluctant to marry their partners.