How To Not Ruin Christmas

It’s that merry time of year and you need to know what your most important responsibility is. Sure, trees must be purchased or dusted off and decorated. Lights must be strung. Presents have to be bought and wrapped and all that. But the MOST important thing is maintaining the legend of Santa. Here is a checklist designed to insure that it is not you, but some other chump who can be blamed for blowing it all.

1. DO know all of the answers to the common questions that your young child may present you with.

Question: “How does Santa fit down the chimney?”
Answer: “Touches his nose and turns into dust”, right? Magic.
Question: “But we don’t have a chimney.”
Answer: “He knows the super.”

2. DO anticipate tougher questions from your older child who can read.

Question: “Why does the storage place have a sign that says that Santa can store his gifts there?”
Answer: “I think you must have read that wrong. Everyone knows that Santa brings all of the gifts in his sleigh.”

Question: “Why does the sign behind Santa say that Santa is Jim Hunter from the Plano Senior Center”?
Answer: “Ummm”

Question: “Why does this Santa look different from the one last year?”
Answer: “Ummm”

The best we’ve come up with is that the Santa at the mall could be the real one or he could be a “helper” Santa. So you have to be nice to all Santas because he could be the real one.

3. DO select the proper gifts to be from Mom and/or Dad and the gifts that are from Santa.

If your family operates anything like our family does, there are some gifts that are from you, and then there are some gifts that Santa has secretly brought during the night. Remember which gifts are from which fat man.

Some considerations: There’s a delicate balance here. You want to sustain the magic by having Santa give some pretty sweet gifts. You don’t want to hear, “Oh it doesn’t matter if I’m good or not. Santa only ever brings me socks and underwear anyway.” But then again you don’t want to hear, “Santa always brings the best gifts. Santa loves me more than you do. I want Santa to adopt me. I’m going to start packing. I know it’s cold there, but I’ll bring my heavy coat.”

4. DO remember which gifts were from Mom and/or Dad and which were from Santa.

Make a record of who gave what. Study it. Study it more. There WILL be a test. It may not be on Christmas Day. It may not be 5 days later. But you will be quizzed and you better know. Because while your mind is a cluttered warehouse with no room to walk, a child’s mind is tightly organized with only Sponge Bob quotes and Christmas gift information. Discrepancies will be logged. Weaknesses will be probed.

When you hear: “Was this from Santa, or from you and Mom?” It may be harmless information gathering. But it could also be a trap. Then again, this probably only applies to the Moms, because I always say, “I don’t remember”.

5. DON’T wrap the Santa gifts with the same wrapping paper, name tags, or handwriting. Don’t expect that your kids won’t notice.

6. DO remember to lay out all of the gifts, and do not forget any in your trunk. Otherwise, you will have to make up something crazy like, “Hey, these must have fallen off of the roof!” And you can only use that one once. You don’t want Santa to look like a complete buffoon.

7. DO expect follow up questions after it’s all over. And don’t expect them to forget the answers to the questions they’ve already asked.

Last year, my son’s (Santa-given) R/C helicopter stopped working after one charge. “Santa’s gifts are supposed to work. Does Santa MAKE these toys or does he buy them? I think I saw this at Walmart”. Now, it was a lot easier to field questions like this back when kids were getting blocks of wood with wheels that were either trains or cars. “Sure, the elves carved that out of a block of wood.” Now that kids are getting sophisticated crap pumped from the nether regions of the planet, it can easily become increasingly clear (even to a youngster) that Santa has been outsourcing.

At that point, how does one explain that we need to send that piece of crap back to If you send something all the way “back to the North Pole”, they will expect a new one that actually works. What if the next reject arrives DOA? This global manufacturing shift has placed the entire Santa mythology on a stack of Jenga blocks. Though most of the boxes say “Jinga”.

8. DO have some magic in your back pocket to spring when necessary.

Back when I was young, when my older brother spilled the beans about Santa prematurely, my parents covered it up by tracking ash footprints through the house, resulting in a fake tirade by my Mom. Boy, did I fear for Santa’s life if he ever came around our place in the light! That shut me up for another several years.

I don’t dare attempt that one since we have a gas fireplace, but we do leave pieces of half-eaten carrots near the hearth. Though that led to questions such as, “Do the reindeer come into the house? I don’t think Santa eats carrots.”

Be careful out there.

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