Wednesday, December 28, 2005


It was the night before the night before Christmas ... and still some gift wrapping to do. Approximately all of it.

Actually wrapping  is the the easy part. Bringing them out of hiding  -- even finding them -- and then sorting them seems to have become very complicated. The whole Santa thing becomes more complex -- and will get more so -- as Benjamin gets older and more aware of what's going on.

Which presents are from Santa? Which from us? Which will be wrapped? Which will be in the stocking? Does Santa buy things or is everything made at his workshop? Because if it's the latter, then gifts with dead giveaways as to where they were purchased (irremovable price tags, etc.) must not be from Santa.

I don't know if it was during last year's or this years sorting deliberations when jealously first reared its ugly head. Jealousy of Santa Claus. I looked over my list of which presents I had allotted to us and which I had allotted to Santa, and ... Santa was giving way better  presents. That's easy for him to do. He's working with unlimited resources up there. Sure we could  have a higher income. I quit my job to stay home with Benjamin. My wife could have taken one of the high-paying job's in her profession requiring workaholic's hours, but found a more stable, not quite as lucrative one with manageable hours. Call them sacrifices; they're gifts.  Time with our child. You can't wrap that  in shiny red wrap and put it under the tree, but it's a huge gift. Where were YOU,  Santa, when all of those diapers needed to be changed? Didn't ever offer to use any of that fancy "magic" of yours to clean up even ONE  puke-stained sheet, did ya' pal?

Needless to say, the list was rearranged, so Mama & Dada gifts were at least  as impressive as the Santa gifts.

Logistical details continue to the very end: What plausible explanation could there be for Santa using the same kind of wrapping paper as we do? Not a problem: Santa uses different wrapping paper, purchased in advance, and hidden as carefully as the Santa gifts.

At our home, Santa has always brought gifts to the adults as well as to Benjamin. So all the above constraints must be must be applied to Santa's gifts to us, also. I had to ask my wife, does Santa just give adults gifts in their stockings, or also under the tree?

The actual wrapping is kind of relaxing after minding all these details. But then, dare I  wrap any of the Santa gifts? I'm not very neat, straight or dexterous. The elves, with their in-bred superior fine motor skills, their nimble little fingers, their centuries of experience: I can't compete with that! Perhaps, my wife could wrap the Santa gifts? Ohhh, but what about the ones for her?  Benjamin wouldn't notice a few imperfect wrap jobs, would he? Well, Santa must hire some new guys once in a while, to meet increasing demand? Maybe he's outsourcing ...

Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th), when he brings just a few little things for us and leaves them in our stockings or shoes, was a successful dry run, ... and still  all these complications.

It seems pretty suspicious that Santa leaves things in our stockings not only our house, but also at Grandma and Grandpa's house. And not only for the grandchildren and the parent that once lived in that home, but for in-laws too. I hope that doesn't cause any doubt, because I know there's no way Grandma's relinquishing her Santa privileges.

Then there's the scheduling. We are still developing our traditions here. My wife's family opened their presents on Christmas morning, but my family did it on Christmas Eve. (When did Santa come, though? I'm trying to recall. I think I was told to go up to my room for a while to rest or read or play, otherwise Santa wouldn't come if we were all hanging around in the living room. Pretty thin cover, now that I think of it! But I remember believing. Poor gullible sap.) Well, last year Santa came to our house while we were at church on Christmas Eve, and we opened them when we got back. It was much easier, however, to distract a 2-1/2 year-old from noticing that the presents are already in the nearly dark room under the tree, on the way out to church. So if we change it back to Christmas morning this year ... hmmm ... Well, Santa has a complicated schedule which changes every year: increased population, logistical improvements, weather, ... he could come any time, really.

Finally, there's the cookies and milk. (Yeah, we go all in.) They must be consumed with no evidence of mortal tampering. I can handle that.

The whole thing is a very delicate operation, and my wife will allow no cracks in the illusion. Her parents were rather sloppy about the Santa thing when she was young; disintegrated the fantasy a little too early, I guess. Her mom still is rather impulsive about the Santa talk. On Christmas day, it's like, "Now Santa told me that he had to buy that at Shopko and so if you don't like the color ..." And now that we have a kid who still believes, we're frantically trying to signal, "Shut up, Grandma! Little kids are credulous, but they're not idiots !" Of course, she oblivious. We're going to have to have a talk. (Yeah. That'll help.)

Well, at our place, once its been decided and done, Santa leaves a pretty nice trail of Christmas cheer. And he may keep doing it every year . . . so long as he knows his place.

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