This post has been brewing in my head the last few days and was originally to be entitled something like “Wii Schmee” (a less-than-inspired title), until an unexpected twist altered the ending today.

My 12-year-old asked for a Wii for Christmas. I told him that we couldn’t spend that kind of money per child, so he launched a campaign and talked one brother and one sister into agreeing on it as a group present. He even handed me his extra cash and donated his Amazon earnings from selling old video games. My husband and I decided that if the kids wanted it that bad and were willing to work together, we’d get one. Silly us.

wii.JPGI thought Wiis were in short supply last year at Christmas – that surely there would be plenty to go around this year – but that is where I was completely and hopelessly mistaken. The saga began innocently enough at Wal-Mart where I went to the electronics counter and asked to buy a Wii. I might as well have been wearing a sign that said “Clueless.” One guy told me he bought his off of eBay for $800!

Based on a suggestion from store personnel, my husband got in line at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning at a major electronics retailer, only to learn that they had pre-sold theirs to customers who started lining up at closing time Saturday night. Armed with another hot tip, he raced to Target; they pre-sold on Saturday night, too. [I am in no way faulting these retailers. It was a very cold and windy night and I don’t think they should have left people lined up outside all night; I just wish we’d been there at closing time among them.]

We started making lots of phone calls, but were always just a little too late. I learned that retailers don’t actually place their orders, but receive shipments directly from the manufacturer for odd quantities and usually at unexpected times. While most retailers seemed to think their weekend shipment was the last before Christmas, I was finding that small shipments were showing up this week, although snagged before ever reaching the shelves.

Last night I admitted that unless my husband took the rest of the week off of work and we drove separate cars, hitting as many stores as we could when the doors opened, we really didn’t stand a chance. I was already feeling a little silly about the amount of effort we’d put into this anyway. Plan B went into effect, which is a fancy way of saying I gave up on the Wii and bought other Christmas presents.

I have a son who works for Chick-fil-a. Another employee was sick this morning and called to see if he could fill in for her. After we dropped him off, we went to Wal-Mart to pick up a pair of shoestrings (yes, this is a true story). We ate breakfast at the McD’s inside the store, and then went to look at the toys.

Electronics sits between the toy and shoe departments, and like a glutton for punishment I stopped at the counter and said, “You won’t be getting any Wiis before Christmas, will you?” The employee darted his eyes from side to side, leaned forward, and practically whispered that he had two in a box behind the counter. After asking me to remain calm and not draw attention, thereby creating some sort of a riot, he double bagged my purchase and slipped it to me with all of the secrecy of an illegal drug transaction. The man next to me asked if they would hold his driver’s license and allow him to run to the bank for money to buy the other one.

Although obviously there will be no surprise to this gift, I quickly vetoed the kids’ suggestion that they just open it now; since Plan B was implemented prematurely, I also have some returns to make. I’ve got some happy kids, though.

[As a side note, the stores are well-stocked with Tickle Me Elmos this year!]

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