My kids are young, so I make a lot of rookie mistakes that many of you with older kids can spot from ten miles away.
Like the importance of writing letters to Santa — something we didn’t do this year.
I foolishly thought people did this because it was just fun for the kids. Or because it’s a sweet relic of childhood to keep for years to come.
No, no, no.
Now I know the real reason: To have written, parentally binding proof of what the kids requested for Christmas.
Because, when you don’t write a letter to Santa and commit your kids’ wishes to paper, let me tell you what happens.
Your five year-old takes on an entirely new interest — one you had never once heard him mention, ever — on or about December 15. And he is obsessed with it. It’s now ALL HE WANTS FROM SANTA.
All of those other things you bought in early November, thinking you were on the ball? Forget it. He doesn’t care anymore.
Alright, you figure. It’s not a costly gift he wants. Let’s just go online and order it.
It’s not available, of course. Anywhere. Because every peer of your child has been asking for it since October. And those kids wrote it down in their letters to the big guy.
OK, well, that’s that, you tell yourself. After all, you don’t want to be that parent whose kid gets spoiled on Christmas. Surely he’ll love the other toys. And there’s a life lesson in there somewhere, right?
And then you hear him, in his room, telling his toys that he only wants ONE THING from Santa this year. That new thing that did not exist in his mind two weeks ago.
That thing that would not have been in the parentally binding letter to Santa. Had you done one.
Sigh. You want to track down the Kindergarten classmate that introduced him to this idea and substitute his lunch box cookies with broccoli.
Next thing you know, you’re in your car heading to Toys R Us at 8am five days before Christmas. Because when you called there inquiring about said toy, two things happened. First, they laughed at you. And then, they mentioned the arrival of a new toy shipment. The specificity level of what would be in that shipment was exactly zero. But hey, your item might in there.
And you can’t believe you are this person, jumping through hoops for this one toy.
You also can’t believe the lines at Toys R Us at 8am.
And, above all, you can’t believe Toys R Us doesn’t offer in-house trauma counselors to deal with this madness. Or a bar. Because you’re not above a mimosa at this point.
Was your item on that magical shipment? Nope.
But another truck arrives on Sunday. Yes, that would be December 23. 48 hours before showtime.
So you are pretty much ready to admit defeat.
And, then, after school that day, your son tells his grandmother on the phone all about THE ONLY THING HE WANTS FROM SANTA.
So maybe one more trip back to the store on Sunday wouldn’t be such a disaster.
But wait! The item has been found online! There are four left in stock! Shut the front door — this could be the end of the saga. Until you realize that the Super Expedited on Crack Shipping Cost will amount to more than double the value of the actual toy itself to ensure a Christmas Eve arrival.
I’m writing this late at night on December 22. I have no ending to this story because I don’t know yet if I will greet that truck again tomorrow. And I don’t know if I’ll just suck it up and pay for Certifiably Insane Shipping. Or if I’ll just let it go. Right now, this is a Choose Your Own Adventure book and I am the unwilling protagonist.
But I can tell you one certain outcome.
Next year, we are writing letters to Santa. Before December begins.
And then we are having them notarized and mounted in laminate.