The Santa Game

I'm fascinated by how different families handle the issue of Santa. Personally, I've explained to our children that we like playing The Santa Game. Much in the same way we play The Toothfairy Game, which my husband turned into The Junior Bountyhunter Game. He put a bounty on the toothfairy!

Anyway, we play The Santa Game. The parents pretend to be Santa. The children pretend to think there's a Santa. Lots of fun for all! Santa mostly brings books, and the stocking things. But our Santa is DEFINITELY rather literate. I try to make sure each child gets a "fun" book, and a "serious" book. This year I splurged and they also got puzzles.

I especially love "doing" the stockings. Its my thing. My parents tried to squish it out of me the year that my little brother finally realized there was no Santa. But I persevered. I did the stocking for my little brother the next year, and added one for my parents, and told them calmly I wasn't above doing my own stocking. Fortunately, it never came to that. Mostly because my little brother stepped up and did my stocking in splendid style. After I got married, my husband tried to distract me with other traditions. I suspect he was vaguely horrified at the prospect of dealing with bunches of little things and tiny bows etc. I persevered.

All year if I see a little special item, I scoop it up for the stockings. The criteria is not "cheap" or "quantity", but rather small and clever and charming. There's an art to a well-done stocking. Its ALL about the "thought".

This year, the children got cool pens. And stickers. Note-pads. Wallets (to replace the one the puppy ate, and the one that went in the washer). Costume jewelry. Combs. Soap. Thumbtacks. Toothbrushes so cool that they took a break in the middle of it all to immediately go brush their teeth!

Doing the kids is easy. Doing adults is harder. I think that says a lot about adults, how jaded adults become, how they have a harder time finding joy in little things. Unless they're getting a stocking full of little things from me. Because I am an amazing stocking stuffer person. And gracefully full of humility I might add!

Although, this year was NOT the best stocking year ever, having spent months being pregnant and the last few weeks before the holiday consumed with the newborn and the husbands appendix and the visitors and ... LALALALALA I'm in my happy place LALALALALALA ...

Anyway, like I was saying, its ALL about the thought instead of price and/or quanity. For example, my mother absolutely adores Guerlain lipstick but won't buy it for herself because she couldn't sleep nights knowing she paid THAT for lipstick. She lit up like the Christmas tree when she found two tubes in her stocking a few years ago. Not just because she loved the item, but because she felt loved knowing that I had paid attention to her and then cared enough to do something about it.

Another example, my father is thrilled to find fingernail clippers in his stocking. And a tape-measure. He is thrilled because his are always vanishing, and is makes him feel just the tiniest bit special because I obviously feel his pain! My mother and brother can not keep track of those things for love nor money! My father and I are both the kind that squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom and put the clippers right back exactly where they go because ... well ... thats where they go.

You'll note, there's a SIGNIFICANT price difference between clippers and Guerlain lipstick. But there's no difference in the level of appreciation. Its ALL about the thought.

Which makes it harder to do my husband's stocking. I think about him all the time. When I see a little treat for him, I can't hold on to it. It finds him immediately. But I suspect his stocking is about to get much more interesting in the next few years.

As the children get older, I'm going to let them start helping me do the stockings. I've been doing it all myself the last several years, but I remember when I was young that everyone in the house would slip things into other peoples stockings on Christmas Eve. Sometimes wrapped and sometimes not. Mysterious bulges in the stocking were so VERY thrilling. It was great to see other people excited about something you did. I want to share that with my children. A love of giving. The joy of plotting and planning something for someone you love, even when you don't get credit for it since "Santa" does the stockings.

I suspect I better emphasize the "for someone you love" part of that sentence. My children will probably take WAY too much joy in the "plotting and planning". When Ron (who turned 8 this month) opened a snap-circuit-board for Christmas and realized it could be used to build several projects among which was a motion detector, he spontaneously burst out "GREAT! NOW I CAN TRAP THE TOOTHFAIRY!"

Waves

Interesting. I was brought up always knowing that Santa Claus was a fictional character, like Mickey Mouse or Superman.

Which may have led to a less than respectful attitude toward Santa on the part of my brother and myself. One of our childhood games was "Santa in the Chimney," which for some reason we always played on the steps out in front of our house. The idea was, the steps were the "chimney," and one of us would be Santa. And then the idea was that Santa got stuck in the chimney, and caught on fire, and then whichever one of us was Santa would come running out of the chimney in flames, and try to catch the other one, like in a game of tag.

Unfortunately we never had Christmas stockings. Though we did have the custom of nifty little gifts. To this day, I usually get among my Christmas gifts some uniquely designed deck of playing cards which turned up in a second-hand store during the year. (This year, playing cards with various cartoon bugs on them...)

Paul Burgess | 01/10/2006 - 12:20 PM

Oh! What wouldn't the boys do for cards with bugs on them!?!

As it is, they've almost driven me over the edge with the Uno cards. Even Cassie (who will be 4 yrs old this month) can play a pretty mean game of Uno!

We've also started playing a game thats a cross between GinRummy and Scrabble. Each card has a letter on it, and you make words instead of number sequences. Everyone plays together but scoring is different for adults and children.

We're big into games all ages can play competitively.

Lucy | 01/10/2006 - 02:36 PM

I LOVE the stockings! Stockings were always more fun than everything else!

This year, all my kids got in on the act, and they had a ball. The stockings were so full, I had to take the stuff I bought, and put it in a box and wrap it. I labled it "stocking overstock!"

We're trying something a bit different next year. Each family memeber is drawing a name, and they are the secret santa for that person. Their job is to find all those amazing things during the year, and save them for the stocking!

This year, my dh got two things I NEVER would have bought him, but the kids were convinced he'd want! One was a giant coosh ball (he LOVES to pelt us with it at unsuspecting times) and the other was a poker game pen to play electronic poker. I didn't even know he played poker, and we've been together for 16 years!!

Never let the stocking tradtion die, it's too much fun. We even snuck stuff into our parent's homes, and stuffed their stockings this year!

Leni | 01/10/2006 - 04:43 PM

Oh oh oh ... I LOVE the secret Santa idea!

Lucy | 01/10/2006 - 10:30 PM
 
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