Coping with being Santa and Mrs. Claus

Published 7:45 am Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This time of year is busy for everyone, especially parents. Putting up holiday lights and Christmas trees, shopping, spending hard earned money, wrapping gifts, parties, Christmas plays, musicals and strolls.
Going hither and tither is our annual attempt to make merry and try to enjoy this festive season. And hyperventilation is not an option.
I recently received some Christmas lists from two young children who just so happen to be living under the same roof as me. Since they are my kids, and they call me Daddy, I happen to know how to get in touch with Santa (or the Spirit of Christmas, or the Elf on the Shelf or whatever my fellow parents do at home for the magic of the season). Because I hold this office of authority and supremacy, they in turn write Christmas lists and hold them in my face to disperse as I please.
These lists in question have raised quite a few eyebrows for my wife and me. As well as blood pressures.
Items from my daughter such as a marbles (easy), hard plastic horses (okay), a red wagon (hadn’t planned on that one), robotic horse you can sit on (huh?), paint your own horse (as well as the table that it’s painted on), horse wallet (to keep her hard-earned money), horse books and a horse on a stick to ride on (do we see a horse addiction here?).
None of the above items have been on – or have even crossed – the minds of the two “in touch” parents who have the dubious task of either acquiring these items or disregarding Santa’s wish list, blaming it on the U.S. postal system going bankrupt. The inability to mail Santa’s letter and the unfortunate timing of the collapse of the U.S. mail would devastate a kid, however – I may renege on the national postal crisis idea.
My son’s wish list is short, sweet and to the point. He wants anything that is sports. I can find entire stores dedicated to such a request. I can see myself walking in there, shopping to my heart’s content, grabbing things off the shelf and throwing them into my overflowing cart of boy toys as I whistle my way to the checkout counter. Ah, yes, shopping spree at “Big Overdoing It with Everything Sports” sports store.
My son may be easy to buy for, but dangerous at the same time. We must stay within budget here, if there is such a thing nowadays.
Budget is very key. No, the “B” word is not a swear word, it’s a word that my wife and I have learned to use over the last few years. Hard to do at Christmastime. Santa and Mrs. Claus must stick to it religiously in order for Christmas to be enjoyable and sane.
There is nothing wrong with sticking with a few simple things to get the kids, just like the good ol’ days. I have never experienced those days, but there probably was a time when Ma and Pa gave each of their kids a present or two, and that was sufficient. Modern society has taught us that a present or two is like an hors d’oeuvre at an all-you-can eat buffet. Skip the appetizers, bring me the full-course meal!
Walk through Wal-Mart and look at the faces of all the people standing in line with their shopping carts full of “stuff” that they just had to buy. The droned look says it all. To most, it’s just a routine we go through every year.
It doesn’t have to be that way – we’ve made it like that. We can enjoy the season without buying up the store and maxing out our resources. We can give so much more than material gifts. I only hope my kids grow up to know that.
Mr. Claus is just happy with a new pair of underwear, socks and some long johns for Christmas. Cold weather and all.
Chris Jakubowicz lives in Tryon with his wife and children. His bi-weekly column will focus on how he and his family are trying to get back to their grassroots. Jakubowicz can be reached by email at cjak32@gmail.com.