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Best Christmas gift ever!

Seona Smiles
Sunday, December 23, 2012

There's nothing like a spot of household renovation to keep you preoccupied and away from the business of writing a column, unless it is a new baby.

We started with the renovations first, a matter into which I do not intend to delve to any depth.

Let me just say that a brother-in-law for whom I have great respect looked at me in astonishment and said "but you should enjoy it, like I do".

I still respect him, I just think he has an entirely different sense of fun.

Of course his renovations are carried on in a place far distant from his own residence.

He does not go to sleep to the lullaby of power drills and syncopated clonking.

Nor does he need to lurch out of bed to pen the animals before they start barking abuse at innocent, early-starting workmen.

I have told them repeatedly that there is no need to rouse the household to beware of an approaching jackhammer.

First of all, it comes every day and secondly, we know because we hear it, just like they do.

Those people coming up the driveway are not the Assyrian coming down like a wolf on the fold and those are not his cohorts all gleaming in purple and gold — those are carpenters and tile layers in faded blue t-shirts carrying hammers and trowels and we want them here.

Actually, the fearsome watchdogs are more interested in sussing out their roti parcels, no doubt hoping to scare them into running away and leaving their lunch behind.

The renovations have developed some unexpected and interesting architectural features designed by the so-called Head of Household, the most fascinating being a downstairs door that opens directly into a pit that could bury a dead elephant.

Some weeks ago I thought the creature had arrived at 4am on a wet morning when I had got up to wave a fond farewell to the Head of Household on his way to Nadi.

In the glare of the Landrover lights, I could have sworn I saw a sort of arthritic dwarf elephant lurching up the driveway, waving its trunk about in a most excited manner.

The creature disappeared around the side of the house while I attempted to rouse the snoring watchdogs to pursue.

Before I could get them awake enough to bark, the Head of Household appeared at the top of the steps to give me a sweaty kiss goodbye and announce that he had just dropped one of those flexible drainage pipes in the hole at the side of the house.

Oookay. The main mission was to get the project finished before our first grandchild arrived.

It has been something of a neck and neck race, with plumbers panting in the starting blocks as the wardrobe carpenters dash for the door and those working on the kitchen get their gear in place for receiving the benchtops and the electrician passes the baton to me to get longer cords for the wall fans.

What wall fans?

We are actually still not sure who will hit the tape across the new doorway first, but our granddaughter arrived in time to celebrate international Human Rights Day, though at the point of writing she is still taking it easy in Morrison Maternity ward.

Apparently a baby's first human right is to demand sustenance, the second is to sleep undisturbed by people with flashing cameras, doting rellies who want to poke her to make her open her eyes so they can see what colour they are, and those who want to unwrap her blanket so they can look at her funny feet.

All babies stick legs and funny feet like golf clubs, not just ours.

Anyway, ours has lots of lovely dark hair and I strongly suspect curls.

I heard the new grandpa on the telephone asking someone what they doing for Christmas.

Before they could answer, he said proudly: "We're having a baby."

So one way and another, I'm a bit busy.

Status report: Renovations — nearly there; baby — present and delightful; father — delighted; mother-fit and fine; mausi (aka Cuddles the Thug) bossy and baby hogging; tata (grandfather) celebrating uncontrollably; auwah (grandma) — exhausted.

It could be shaping up to be the best Christmas ever.

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