Bigger car and it’s in the bag
IT is Santa’s fault my daughter packs so much for her holidays. Daisy is only five, but she’s already turning up her nose in dainty disdain at the idea of travelling light. Even a short trip into town sees her stuffing a backpack, inspired by thoughts of her jolly hero effortlessly travelling the world with his flying reindeer and enough toys in his bag for all the children on the planet. Given that she’s been planning to marry Santa and live with him (at least until global warming puts paid to the North Pole), she’s been putting herself through training.
Essentials for an outing of a few hours’ duration can include books, jewellery, fresh flowers, fairy wand and dress (with a spare pair of wings in reserve), crayons, paper, emergency blob of Playdough, a pair of party shoes, bugcatcher (resident slug optional), fridge magnets, pebbles for throwing into any water we may encounter, and a packet of sultanas.
Any suggestion she may want to consider rationalising her load (partly on the grounds that I’ll end up carrying it and I’m not ready for a hernia) are greeted as final proof that grown-ups are silly. She gives me a gently pitying look, holds my hand for a moment, then heads off to start picking out dollies and some extra large pebbles, just to make a point.
By the time she’s done, she hands me a small backpack with a strained zipper and the density of a neutron star; Daisy may have invented the Tardis bag.
If we’re heading off on a longer expedition, she is up to the challenge. I only have to mention the word holiday and a gleam steals across Daisy’s eyes as she begins coolly processing the logistics of how to squeeze everything she owns into her bags. Before I know it, she’s pottering outside to size up our station wagon, eyeing the empty boot like an architect contemplating a vacant block. ‘‘ Daddy,’’ she says, ‘‘ I think we might need a bigger car.’’
She gets down to work, tipping the contents of drawers and toy boxes in the direction of her luggage, pausing to ponder what her future husband would do, hands on her hips as she regards the size of the task before her with a due sense of awe. Worryingly, her little brother totters around after her, studying and learning, keen to emulate his idol and already aware that a couple of bibs, toys and a cubic metre of disposable nappies constitute a woefully inadequate amount of luggage to be seen with in public.
Somehow, my wife and I manage to negotiate the payload downwards. We shoehorn everything in and, as the car creaks ominously, Daisy looks pleased and declares this is how good the elves feel when they’ve got the sleigh ready to go on Christmas Eve.
Before we drive off we squeeze in a visit to the shops and Daisy spots Santa ensconced on his throne; it’s the first time in a year they’ve had a chance to chat and she gives his ear a good bending. Afterwards, the look of disappointment is unmistakable. ‘‘ You know,’’ she whispers, ‘‘ I think Santa is actually too old to marry.’’
I nod sagely, but inside I’m elated, the vision of a hernia-free future glittering before me. ‘‘ Do you think you won’t need to pack as much next time?’’ I eventually ask.
Daisy giggles, gives me a gently pitying look, holds my hand for a moment, and heads towards the car.