The two green envelopes, addressed to Santa Claus, had been tucked under a stack of files for 12 years, but the notes inside each of them confirmed that my unique, kind, polite children are still all those things, with just enough unapologetic confidence to keep it real.
For years, my kids didn’t know that I played Santa Claus in a letter writing campaign for our close friends, ensuring that their children got a personal letter from the big guy, with intel from their parents to make it authentic. After all, sometimes the real Santa is too busy to add these personal touches.
I loved this role. There was nothing better for my Christmas spirit than crafting creative responses to hopeful children to encourage their belief in the magic of the holiday.
I don’t remember how Santa replied to my children’s sweet letters, written by my then eight-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, but I am sure it was with that non-committal, vague wording that reassured them they “might” get their wish, but that Santa “might” know the truth of who pretended they didn’t see that the cat coughed up a fur ball on the couch, despite their playing video games on said couch. Ho. Ho. Ho.
These Santa letters were dated Dec. 3, 2010. My children, with their wobbly penciled printing, wrote letters in keeping with our family’s three-gift request rule – a rule to keep budgets and expectations real.
But you can’t blame a kid for pushing the limits. My son, the youngest child, is a charmer.
“Hi Santa, for Christmas may I please have a set of real drums because the old set I am going to give away,” he wrote, thoughtfully.
Yes, I was the parent who thought toddlers needed a drum kit, and pre-teens needed an even bigger drum set. Request granted.
Then he asked for a toy camera. Good call. He’s a photographer now. And the iPod Touch, which was all the rage.
But the kicker was his additional request:
“P.S. I would like it if you could get my mom a 2008 Grand Caravan, but say it was from me.”
At the time, I was driving a used Ford Focus station wagon, with manual windows and basic factory settings. Herbie the Love Wagon. I loved that car.
The cool hockey parents would pull up beside us at the arena in their shiny minivans, with sliding doors, loads of hockey storage, with fancy seats and interior TVs with DVD players.
Post-game, these hockey families would have loaded their hockey stars and arrived home before my car defrosted enough to leave the parking lot.
I didn’t care. Herbie was a beast; a true road warrior.
In contrast to her brother, my daughter’s letter to Santa was short and sweet, like her. She asked for a specific doll, some doll clothes and a craft. Not a word about a gift for her mother. Huh.
In review, one child was ashamed of his mom’s ride, but wanted credit for the gift of a new one. And the other couldn’t care less about me, but was really clear on her doll choice.
They grow up so fast.
Santa, this year my son would like for his mom to get a Toyota 4Runner, okay? It’s more her style.