In these parts, the Santas are real. Real beards. Real glimmer in their eyes. Real patience with kids excitedly mumbling the gobbledygook of their personal toymagination.
This is the first year The Child is not skeptical about that dude in a red suit. We’ve visited him a few times in the past few weeks, mostly at our closest mall.
There is a sentence I can’t believe I typed.
The Child has been happy to share his list with this year’s Santa: A replacement for his lost train engine, Gator. The Child is not used to things going missing. Gator has been much on his mind. He wants to tell Santa the places he’s looked. He shares theories about where Gator might have gone missing. He recalls where it was purchased, and by whom. Santa can’t possibly understand what this boy in purple leggings is babbling about. But he nods, asks questions, and eventually I offer a gentle interpretation.
You know, so Santa gets it right.
Last week we went back to repeat our ritual, and this time Santa asked some different questions.
“Oh, well. What about an engine you’ve never had before? Like James. Do you have James?”
The Child responded, “No. I don’t. But I pretend sometimes a different red thing is James.”
Proper response from Santa: “Oh my. It’s great using your imagination!”
Actual response from Santa: “Well, what about a James engine for Christmas? Do you think you’d like a James?”
The Child said, “Well, my bus is also red.”
Santa said, “Oh, and a new James is red too, right?”
In the actual.
Does this guy get kickbacks from Fisher-Price? Is he bored? Is he pulling a full-on Billy Bob Thornton, and showing up drunk for mall duty?
Well, NOW when the grandparents Skype to ask him what he wants from Santa, the young boy’s story has changed. NOW APPARENTLY HE NEEDS TWO JAMES ENGINES TO HOOK TOGETHER. There is no mention of Gator. Which is the toy that’s already wrapped in Santa paper.
This is why we are greedy, America. We let strange men in red suits speak to our children about toys. Don’t be surprised when my kid shows up to kindergarten telling your kid that dude is a LIE perpetuated by Hallmark. He’s a guy named Willy who rips off department stores.
Thanks, Willy. Thanks a lot.