I got a rather worrying ’phone call this morning.
My girlfriend seems to be thoroughly taken by the magic of Christmas. I think Christmas is shit, but then I am embittered and cynical, and being right is little consolation under those circumstances.
However, I am not yet sufficiently embittered and cynical that I wish to take those I love down with me, and so, having got her a potentially unromantic present, I decided it was only right and proper to wrap her something up to go with it. In the short term, it would mystify her (it’s pretty hard to work out that a box contains a website by feeling it, or the noise it makes when you shake it), and it would keep the magic of the season alive when she tore it open on Christmas morning.
The fake present was constructed ever so slightly on a whim. I made a series of extremely poor excuses about how slow I was at wrapping presents in a vain attempt to buy enough time to write an explanatory note and cram a box full of stuff from round my room. I did the note first: easy, if scrawled rather hurriedly. Next…some kind of mysterious box. Hmm.
We’d bought a salt and pepper mill set which came in a box a couple of weeks before, so I started with that. I thought just putting the note in it would be a bit rubbish, though, because it would be really obviously an empty box. Thus, I got a little round tin with a Google magnetic game in it which I had acquired for free at the end of my internship there the other summer, a security card holder borrowed from RAL to stop the tin sliding about in the too-big-for-it box, some balloons I seemed to have lying about and a little sandwich bag clip to make the whole assembly rattle in a suspicious fashion when shaken.
I am cheap so I added a PS to the note to make sure she realised that I wanted the cool magnetic game back.
I quickly bundled all this in the salt and pepper grinders’ box, wrapped it badly (especially so given how long I was apparently taking) and presented it to her. Its surprising weight and suspicious rattle left her pleasantly bemused. So far, so good, I thought.
So, this morning I received my ’phone call.
‘Wow!! Andrew, thank you so much for my present!!
‘Dad’s playing with the magnetic game thing and my brother’s playing with the box, and my other brother is blowing up all the balloons!! It’s the best Christmas present ever!’
‘Err…’ I began, slightly concerned, ‘You do, uh, realise that that’s not your actual present, don’t you? Did you find the, uh, note that explained that I actually gave you a website and that the box of stuff was just a decoy?’
‘Oh, yes,’ she told me gleefully, ‘I’ve not had a chance to get to a computer yet. Thank you, Andrewwww!!!’
Having been awoken earlier than planned by this overly-excited ’phone call, I spent the rest of the day huddling around the log burner attempting to use an introductory economics book to stave off falling back to sleep before the Christmas roast in the evening. Even the coldest cynic can keep himself awake for Christmas dinner.
Merry Christmas, one and all.