I was having dinner with some friends the other night, and i think i was ranting about my christmas airline ticket (see, i told you i like to hyper focus on the trivial details) and one friend turned and said:
'ahhhhh christmas. the best way to shop for presents is on christmas eve, as late as possible, all in one go'.
i nearly spit out the well chilled red wine i was drinking (in png, they believe in chilling the red, it even comes in an ice bucket).
anyway, my friend, my dear friend, had just described a recurring nightmare that i have every year. the nightmare that i'm expecting any day (night) now that turkey dinner I is nearly upon us, which means the countdown to turkey dinner II has begun. usually in the dream, i am frantically shopping at 11pm in the local 7-11 trying to decide how much beef jerky would be enough for a gift, and whether or not the hot nacho cheese will still be hot when my dad opens the plastic take-out container. last years nightmare actually included being on a plane on christmas morning and trying to buy duty free for presents. yes, i do have a problem.
my obsession with christmas and with presents was one i thought would perhaps, let's say, wane with my career choice. but well, nope! the year in sudan... still got the nightmare and was frantically shopping the moment my plane hit the tarmac in vancouver (and i should mention the last minute souk trip in khartoum to buy jallabeyas for the men in my life). midway through working in bangladesh, one of the poorest countries out there where we worked with a population who literally lived in mud... lost neither the present enthusiasm nor the running out of time nightmare! still completely obsessed with presents (although to be fair, all shopping was done the night before we left bangladesh because there was this little thing called cyclone sidr that kept us a bit busy in the pre-christmas shopping season - i would like to point out that year was the closest i've ever gotten to a living christmas shopping nightmare. it culminated in me standing in the middle of a handicraft shop 15 minutes after they were supposed to close, staring up at the shelves and mumbling the names of friends i hadn't seen in 10 years as i pondered what scarf would suit them best... luckily, jason dragged me out of there).
and now, here i am, another year wiser, another year more obsessed. but since the airline ticket just may well bankrupt me, i've openly pondered the option of just wrapping myself in a giant gift bag and sticking a bow on my head.
but lets get serious, that is not gonna happen. the credit card companies have been silly enough to issue me with plastic, and if i have to have my own sub-prime crisis, so be it. prezzies are not optional.
which brings me back to png. which is possible the only place to have people who actually seem to be more obsessed than i am. we've had traffic jams in lae for the past week, which is apparently caused by the entire province of morobe travelling to the capital for... yes... you guessed it... christmas shopping! and the wonderful pharmacy i dropped by today is already decked out with santa hats nailed along the top of the walls and a large plastic santa motive smiling benevelantly down at us.
definitely my kind of people. let's see if i can get them all into repetedly playing the boney m christmas album too. then i will be in paradise.