Once upon a time, Nintendo invented the Wii...quickly followed by cries from the girls of "ooo, we want that!!"...to which we replied "we're not made of money, we can't buy expensive Christmas gifts AND still afford a trip this summer" (this conversation was last Christmas). Without hesitation, both agreed that the trip was the thing.
Shortly afterward, their existing GameCube packed it in, never to work again. Gasp, the horror, the horror!!! What on earth would they do all year without a gaming console?!! Long gone are the days of playing outside with nothing but an old pot and a mud puddle...these gals want "quick reactions required" electronic stimulation.
They went without a game console for nearly a year...and I have to say, I noticed them drifting apart. Some parents complain that their kids spend too much time playing electronic games as a solo activities and not enough time socializing, but this is one of the few activities my girls do together (they are six years apart in age.) Without the shared gaming, they come home from school and go to their separate rooms to do their homework, then read or play separately. Moods and energy levels droop...
We planned all year to get them a Wii for Christmas 2007. Finally in mid-November, we stopped into one of the big stores to pick one up. There were none in stock...they had no idea when more are coming in...they said no, you can't pay now and have one held for you. Uh oh, unexpectedly, Wii are "the" hot gift item for a second year in a row. This is not good. We made the rounds at so many stores...no luck. The standard advice was to call every day to find out when they are getting a shipment, then we'll have to join the other folks who line up outside the door before store opening and take our chances. Right. We attempted this one day on a tip that a store was getting a shipment that day...we arrived an hour and a half before store opening, only to find perhaps 50-75 people already there...we just kept going. (And good thing too, as it turned out, the Wii shipment did not come that day.)
Things seemed hopeless.
It looked like we'd have to give the girls an I-O-U and get the Wii after the holidays whenever stocks are rebuilt and back to normal. I decided to tell them so that they wouldn't be totally disappointed Christmas Day. As soon as I started to speak, I choked up and began to cry...I felt so bad, blaming myself and thinking that I should have seen this shortage coming and gotten one earlier in the year, what kind of a thoughtless parent was I, anyway?! (Oh, how irrational the thought of disappointing your children can make you!)
Both girls immediately swarmed over to where I was sitting, threw their arms around me and assured me "it's fine, mummy (they still call me that bytimes even though they're 11 and 17), we don't mind waiting a while longer". Such sweeties, I am blessed to know them!
Christmas Eve arrived. I printed out a photo of a Wii, with "We owe you one Wii, Love Mom and Dad" written across the top, and place it on the piano. Off we go to visit my mom for a few hours. When we got home, there was a message on the machine from a woman at my work. My first thought was that it was bad news (another woman at work is pregnant, and has been quite sick). I quickly returned the call. Darlene asked if I got a Wii yet...I sigh heavily and say no. Well says Darlene, my sister bought an extra one today if you want it. (Someone had gotten her sister one earlier in the week, so when she was in the store and heard that Wii's were available, she decided to get one for someone else - a pay it forward kind of thing.) Yes, yes, YES!!! I definitely want it!!! I struggled to keep my voice down so as not to alert the girls that something's up. Fortunately we were just about to head out to church, so Dave could slip away to Darlene's without the girls really noticing (he was not joining us, as usual, since he doesn't believe in church.)
I put the Wii in an unmarked bag under the tree, leaving the IOU up on the piano. Eventually we got to that present. I ended up opening it since there was no tag. I pulled out the tissue...I slid the box out of the bag...two pairs of eyes went huge and round as saucers...two voices started shrieking and cheering and gasping with disbelief!! The box was hugged, patted, caressed, enthused and gushed over...it was the most surprising gift EVER! I'm not sure who was more excited, the girls to get the Wii, or me for being able to give it to them on Christmas Day after all!
I can't thank Darlene and her sister enough for making our day. These games are not cheap, so to spontaneously stand in line in hopes of getting one (the store only had five so it wasn't a sure thing), and then buy it in case someone else needed it...what a generous gesture. The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in the Maritimes!! For what makes this gift so incredibly special to me is the spirit behind it - both from my girls for so graciously accepting a delay (which happily didn't come to pass), and from my friend and her sister, a woman I've never met who went out of her way to bring happiness to someone else's children!
I hear Dave and the girls playing even now as I type...ah, loving family bonding...isn't that what the season's all about?!