Wednesday, December 3, 2008

'tis the season

This year the geekyfamily are heading to South Africa for a southern hemisphere Christmas with Geekydaddy's parents and extended family. We're excited about this of course, but the closer our departure date comes, the more daunted I feel by the thought of taking a 9 month old and an almost 3 year old half way across the world, spending over 20 hours on airplanes. We are breaking our trip after the first of our three flights, spending a night with my family at my sister's house in London. We will get to meet her latest addition, baby Sophie, and Geekgirl and Geekybaby will get to spend some time with their cousins. Then we hit the air again with another 10 hour flight to Johannesberg, followed by a short hop to Durban.

I apologize in advance to anyone unfortunate enough to be seated near us on any of these flights!

Though geekygirl enjoyed opening her presents last year, and mastered the word 'presents' in the process, this will be the first year she can anticipate the visit of Santa Claus (or Father Christmas, as we would call him back on the UK and in South Africa). We are not religious, and in fact Geekydaddy is quite the Scrooge, would happily do without Christmas altogether. I however embrace my inner hypocrite, and really like to celebrate the holiday. I'm comfortable separating the peace, love and giving part from the the baby Jesus coming to save the world part, and want to create our own traditions for the kids.

So, this means that Santa's presents must be transported half way across the world, without the benefit of flying reindeer. To cut down on bulk, I removed Santa's bounty from its packaging. I'm thinking this was a good idea anyway, since I needed wire cutters to get her new doll out of its box, and this may have caused some frustration on Christmas morning. Santa has been asked for a new baby doll. I had looked at very beautiful, lifelike and stupidly expensive dolls, and almost bought one, then came to my senses as I realized that one of Geekygirls favourite dolls is my old "tiny tears" circa 1972, with her matted hair and marker pen decoration. So Instead I sensibly picked up a nice, inexpensive, "little mommy" doll, easy to dress with her soft body and lifelike with her plastic face, arms and legs, and a selection of extra outfits and accessories for her. However, as I looked at her in her box, in her jaunty purple toweling outfit and blue sneakers, I realized that she was not truly a 'baby doll'. More of a toddler doll. After unpackaging her, I decided to dress her in one of her alternate outfits, a more baby like pyjama set, and then I nestled her in the soft pink carry cot bed I'd bought for her. Somehow this made her much more like the baby doll I think geekygirl is envisioning, and I feel satisfied that she will be delighted with her new baby. I feel an inordinate amount of stress about providing perfect gifts for my sweet girl. I know that love isn't about material things, but still, I want so much to give her things that make her happy. I can feel how easy it could be to fall into the trap of gift giving excess that those clever marketing folk at the toy companies try to push on us.

I have also purchased gifts for various South African cousins who we will be meeting for the first time. For two little boys I chose fisher price "Cars the movie" shake and go vehicles. Some genius at fisher price decided that these should be sold active and ready to go, which does save that scramble for batteries, but also meant that any time these things were moved they let our an offensive, loud throaty engine roar and said things like "you can't escape the law". I had visions of our luggage getting unwanted attention if every time a bag was handled these these noisy little buggers started roaring, so I hacked them out of their little display boxes to find the off switches, and put them to sleep for the trip.

Now I just need to find the time to mail my Christmas cards, launder everything that needs to be packed, double check the kennel booking for the animals, find everyone's passports, and fill a bag of tricks to amuse the kids on the flights!