But 2008? Oh, in 2008 it was grand! 2008 was the year my dad and Lalli took the whole family to Aruba for our Christmas present. Merry Christmas indeed! We all jammed what we needed for a week into one small carry-on (not hard when it’s mostly a swim suit and a toothbrush and also I’m basically a master packer. Did you know that?) and paraded to the airport. Because we were taking advantage of Lalli’s wonderful JetBlue employee benefits, we had to fly to San Francisco first. A storm diverted us to Oakland, and after a bouncy bus ride across the bay, we were on our way.
Aruba was warm and sunny and just about perfect in every way. In typical fashion, however, we could not just relax and enjoy the scenery. We had put an offer in on our house just days before we took off for sandy shores, and we spent more than a few pricey international minutes talking with the realtor about home inspections and appraisals. While we shopped on the touristy row of knick knacks, I happily picked out a few wooden vases, eagerly anticipating placing them in our new home. Paddy was just as excited as I was about the house, but pretty much left the souveniring to me. I encouraged him a few times to find something that would remind him of the trip, but he was happy to focus on procuring virgin drinks and beating the Dutch tourists at beach volleyball.
On the very last day of the trip, as we headed to the airport, I lamented about the fact that he had not chosen any fun items to take home with us. Everyone in our rented van tossed out ideas of things he would like. Someone mentioned the Aruban license plates the vendors were hocking for a couple of dollars apiece.
“C’mon, babe! For your new garage!” I said.
It was like a light went off in his head. “I’M GOING TO HAVE A GARAGE!!” he shouted.
My dad swerved toward the vendor fair, stopping illegally in the middle of the street just long enough for Paddy and Ashton to jump out of the van and run full speed down the crowded sidewalk, hopping over bins of friendship bracelets and beanies with fake dreadlocks attached. Paddy clutched his two dollars (we’re such gullible tourists) in his fist as they weaved in and out of the crowds of people fresh of the visiting cruise ship.
In under two minutes we met them at the other end of the street, panting and grinning broadly, a blue license plate tucked proudly under his arm.