Santa is Making His List

By Carson Hooks – December 3, 2012

In the me-focused world of our toddlers, the holidays (for our family, Christmas) can disproportionately revolve around getting. For our inherently selfish little ones, most any gift guide should be renamed a “get” guide. Can I get that? I’m gonna get all of those for Christmas. I’m fairly certain they now watch cartoons just for the commercials.

Despite being inundated with the shiny and the novel, our kids are thankfully still young and innocent enough to be satisfied with hand-me-downs and other second-hand items. Davis, 4, loves his second-hand bicycle. Hudson, 2, latches on to a beat-up football as much as a pristine one, especially if the former bears a Longhorn logo. And Ella Marie, 1, is still most interested in any toy belonging to her brothers, no matter how used and abused.

New to them is all that really matters. Julia and I have adapted our gift-giving accordingly. Even the grandparents have, to an extent, followed suit. With this in mind, I’ve taken it upon myself to write a Christmas list of two items for each of our kiddos, using my almost limitless parental foresight. Despite their pleas for the “it” preschool toy of the moment, I know what they’ll really use, and, therefore, what they should be requesting.

We begin with the boys collectively. For Davis and Hudson, hand-me-down and makeshift costumes. Davis has been in costume since the first week of October. He rotates between Batman, a bejeweled Indian (his inspiration: watching the Disney Classic, “Davey Crockett”), the Incredible Hulk, and some character he calls “Green Ninja.” Halloween’s now-distant departure in no way affected his zeal for being in character no matter the occasion. I’m all for it, especially since each of his costumes is a cousin hand-me-down. But I don’t want to expand his options too much—he currently spends about as much time changing costumes as he does playing in any one of them.

Hudson’s all about costumes as well. But for him, a costume consists of the right shirt, underwear, and socks—all of which must be Batman, Superman, or some combination of the two. That’s it. No need for capes or a mask. Gotta love the simplicity. Shouldn’t take much legwork to check that one off the list.

Once the boys are in costume, the wrestling and playfighting begins in earnest, what us Hooks boys refer to as a “smackdown.” Needless to say, it goes a long way toward exhausting both of them. But it exhausts me, too. Davis always wants me to participate (though, thankfully, not in costume). I love that he wants me to be a part of it, but when I’m not involved, the pleading can be incessant. And that doesn’t bode well for someone currently working from home. As much I would like to, I can’t always drop everything to wrestle. So, the second item on Davis’ list is cards bearing time increments redeemable for Daddy’s wrestling participation. Hopefully, tangible parameters will give Davis a better idea of when I can and can’t play and maybe even teach him some rudimentary budgeting.

Hudson’s wrestling-related gift is even easier. We’ll give him a once-a-week exemption from the nightly bath (I know he’ll love it once he begins to understand the word “exemption”). Hudson hates when the smackdown must end, but he hates the bath that follows even more. Maybe a periodic break from baths will help to ease his post-wrestling depression.

This will be Ella Marie’s second Christmas, but it might as well be her first. She has no idea what’s going on. So she’ll approach it likes she does everything else: taking what she can get and liking it. That usually means confiscating whatever the boys aren’t playing with at the time. But I do have some items that are specific to her list.

First, we’ll grant her more unrestricted stair access. Ella Marie’s favorite adventure is an un-aided staircase jaunt. She heads straight for the stairs every chance she gets. But she doesn’t know how to come back down. I’m quite certain Ella Marie will be very pleased if we designate somewhat regular 10-15 minute intervals to following her up the stairs and then acting as her reverse chairlift so she can do it all over again. And to appease her in her non-stair-conquering downtime, a nice, fluffy 48-pack of toilet paper. She loves to destroy whatever we have on the roll. This time we’re bringing the party to her. She’ll make a huge, destructive mess. But at least we’ll know where she is as we give her an incentive to be sedentary if only for a few minutes.

Alas, if the boys covet one or two must-have items, we’ll forward along the necessary information to the grandparents who, along with Santa, will then play the role of holiday hero. But perhaps for us parents, adhering to these makeshift lists frees up more time and money to begin to emphasize to our crazies the joy and virtue of giving, as opposed to only getting.

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