This year when I asked my daughter for her Christmas list, she bounded over and presented me with a three-page, typed, single-spaced document listing approximately 2,000 items. I grabbed the list, gave it a cursory glance and promptly handed it back before resuming work on my laptop. “Please revise and resubmit.”
Actually, that’s not true. First, I edited the list; then I returned it. Santa might be jolly, but he’s no fool. “Have it back on my desk by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow,” I told her.
I must admit, as I raced through the document, wildly slashing my daughter’s hopes and dreams from the list, I got a creeping sensation. I paused, holding my pen over the white sheet of paper: Is it wrong to edit your child’s Christmas list?
Then I thought better of it. If your kid has the nerve to hand you a sweeping, three-page list filled with a stunning 99 entries, all bets are off. Not only that, but Kate also asked for completely ridiculous stuff. I’m not even talking about the trampoline or the mini fridge for her room that topped the list. I’m talking about item #71: candy. A little over a month after Halloween, she asked for candy. Candy. She hasn’t even finished the 50-pound stash she collected from her no-holds-barred, marathon trick-or-treat fest. And now she wants more?
The Twizzlers came off. The mini fridge suffered a similar fate. Then I had her consolidate the list, combining all items from the same store into a single entry. That way when I'm in the middle of a jam-packed, ransacked department store two days before Christmas searching through piles of picked-over sweaters in my annual, last-minute holiday shopping tradition, I won’t have to flip through a multiple-page manifesto to make sure I’ve gotten everything.
Some other items remained although they, too, could’ve been scratched. Like the new guitar (she started lessons two months ago) and the sock monkeys (she’s got at least five, and I ask you, how many sock monkeys does one elementary-schooler really need?) I also let her keep the trampoline even though she doesn’t even have a chance in hell of getting that one since my husband’s held veto power over all toys that may result in serious head trauma since the day the kids were born. It’s been 10 years. But hey, if my daughter wants to delude herself, this is the time of year to do it.
Now the list is down to a more manageable two pages, annotated here with the comments in my head when I read it. Let me know if you think it’s still a little too long.
- Phone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
- A new guitar in blue. (You just got a guitar in guitar color.)
- New tuner and picks. (Fine.)
- Laptop. (No.)
- Trampoline. (Negative.)
- Basketball hoop. (Probably not.)
- Scooter. (That you’ll never use?)
- Vera Bradley backpack. (You’re 10.)
- iPad. (Before you get an iPad, I get an iPad.)
- T.V. for room. (Not happening.)
- Katy Perry tickets. (Don’t think so.)
- Money. (From Santa?)
- Mini refrigerator. (Are you out of your mind?)
- Snow cone machine. (Doubt it.)
- Zebra-print anything. (Could you be a little more specific?)
- Pillow pet. (I’m trying to cut down on the amount of pets, pillow or otherwise.)
- Bunk beds. (You don’t even share a room with anyone.)
- Gift card from H&M. (Maybe.)
- New t-shirts from Target. (That’s more like it.)
- Different color jeans/jeggings from American Eagle. (Ok.)
- Sock monkeys. (Whatever.)
- Hats, scarves and jewelry from Claire’s. (But you don’t wear hats, scarves or jewelry.)
- Anti-bacterial gel from Bath & Body Works in assorted scents. (Huh?)
- Stickers. (Done.)
- A puppy! (Don’t even.)
I don’t want to be a Scrooge, and I like to make my kids at least somewhat happy on Christmas day, but I think a certain amount of realism needs to be injected into the situation. We need to manage expectations here. Both because I don’t want her to be disappointed when she only get one one-thousandth of the items on her list and because she needs to know when she's acting straight up crazy.
There are some items, no matter how much they’re desired, that are not acceptable to request — a mini fridge being one of them. Unless, of course, you’re heading off to college. Then it’s perfectly reasonable. If, however, you’re a 10-year-old child who just doesn’t feel like walking down the hall to the actual refrigerator then, no, it's not an acceptable request. Likewise, if you’re a child who wants some expensive device I don’t even have, please refrain from including this on your list. There’s no amount of sad eyes or begging that will procure you an expensive electronic gadget. I don’t care if it is the season of miracles.
While I’d like to make the holidays special and magical for my children, they make it hard on me when they insist on pushing their luck. Now excuse me while I go shop for the paltry gifts that will only disappoint her on Christmas morning.