Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Children, Santa is Not Recession-Proof

I had the dreaded conversation with my 9-year-old yesterday about how this Christmas might be a little "different" than past years. Different meaning instead of a Christmas tree with gifts bursting with gifts from underneath it, he would probably be able to count his gifts on one hand. Now, of course, I didn't say that to him but that is the ultimate reality of the situation. Whereas every other year this child has spent HOURS on Christmas morning ripping open presents with wild abandon, this years it's going to be a reindeer of a different color. And I wanted him to be prepared. But how much (and how in the world without breaking his Christmas spirit) do you explain to a 9-year-old about unemployment, insufficient funds and the reality that there is an unfortunate lack of cute little elves in America to make gifts to place under the tree?

(Luckily my 3-year-old asked for a hula hoop for Christmas, then said she changed her mind and said she wanted a chair for her bedroom, and when I told her she could have both, she said "It's a Christmas miracle!!!!" so I am not worried about that one.)

So this is what I decided. He knows I lost my job. So I said to him that, since I lost my job, this Christmas was going to be a little on the "light side" since we needed our money for the important things like food and our house, etc., etc. Of course he would still get gifts, but he was probably not going to get the amount of gifts he has gotten in the past. I followed that up with Christmas isn't about the presents, it's about being with your family, and enjoying time together and loving each other, and we are so very lucky because we have each other and our health and somewhere to live and food to eat. His immediate reaction, which I knew would be the case, was "But there will still be lots of gifts from Santa."

So I said "But things are tough for Santa too this year honey."

Why not? Why the hell not? I mean, I know that Santa is magical and everything, but really, how much magic is there to go around? There has to be a shortage eventually and couldn't there be a magical recession? Maybe the elves aren't happy with their benefits or want better hours, and can't quite keep up with toy production. Looking at it logically, even Santa can't escape some ups and downs. So yes, I went there. I pulled that card--the very last one in the deck, and I am OK with it.

Because this is probably one of the last years that he is going to believe in Santa Claus. And God forbid there are only four gifts under that tree and he gives me that look that says "Now I know. You have been lying to me all these years. And you didn't even have the balls to tell me the truth. Pussy." I'm just not ready for that yet. He deserves to believe for a little while longer. So this year I will do my best to give him whatever we can, and we will say it is from Santa and that he did his best but times are tough up in the North Pole. And instead of hundreds of gifts, he will get the other stuff he always gets on Christmas in tenfold. His family. Lots of hugs and kisses. And magic. Lots and lots of magic. In the form of those cookies being eaten and the milk being drank and the reindeer prints on the fireplace hearth.

And I swear if any of his friends tell him that Santa is recession-proof I am going to their house and smashing their XBox into a million little pieces.