I remember as a child being jealous of my Christian friends during the Christmas season. What Jewish kid isn't? The lights, the tree, the stockings, the songs, the presents, the fat man with the red suit and the big white beard. When you compare some candles and a few gifts - usually socks and underwear (which, my friends, do not count as presents) - Christmas wins, hands down. My parents didn't shield me from Christmas; they enabled my Christmas lust. I knew all of the words to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and my favorite Christmas special - because I watched them all (claymation at its finest!) - was The Year Without a Santa Claus. Remember the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser brothers and how Mother Earth and Mrs. Claus save the day? It's a feminist Christmas tale if ever there was one! Still, I was very much on the outside of Christmas looking in. Sure, I could help my best friends decorate their 200 foot tree (we used a ladder to hang the ornaments), but it wasn't MY tree.
As a mom of two inter-faith kids (and by inter-faith I mean my husband is agnostic and I'm atheist), I'm pulling out all of the stops. My kids who have no real spiritual grounding, who just last night asked me what the bible is (I said to my daughter, "You know, it has the story of Adam and Eve," to which she replied, "Adam and Eve? Never heard of it."), get both Hannukkah and Christmas. We have a menorah that we light every night of Chanucka and the children receive a small gift each night. I would have killed for that as a kid. We only did one night of gifts and had to wait until night #8! Then, when Chanucka ends, my kids start counting down the days to Christmas. For this we have stockings, Christmas Eve with one set of grandparents, Christmas morning with Nana, and Christmas dinner of Chinese take-out, this year with my dad. It's gluttony.
I barely recall making gift lists for my parents. I seem to remember I was happy with whatever I received, especially the year I got Simon, the panic-inducing electronic musical pattern game.
My kids pour over the toy catalogues that arrive the week of Halloween and circle everything they want. My daughter insists on a color-coded system, or if the markers aren't handy, initialing the things she wants and having her brother do the same. In years past, I could count on my son circling the Thomas the Tank Engine trains and accoutrements, then Disney Cars, then Marvel superhero toys, then Star Wars. He follows a predictable pattern. This year he has two obsessions: Skylanders Swap Force and Pikmin.
I'm not using the word obsession lightly, friends. We are 12-stepping it at my house . . . at least until the presents arrive. At that point we are officially the enablers and must admit that we've created a video game monster.
Case in point, the catalogue:
Notice how he has circled EVERY SINGLE SKYLANDER ACTION FIGURE. Just in case we weren't sure that he would like one - or all - of those as a gift. Also important, the $70 gaming system.
Grandparents to the rescue. But notice that in addition to circling every figure and controller and gaming system, my son helpfully added a note: "all all all." I think he wants all of them. Not sure.
The Pikmin 2 Wii game is not listed in the catalogue because it's an older game. He just finished Pikmin 3. He cried at the end (both sweet and a little pitiful). Every night of Chanucka he just knew he was getting the older game. Alas, he did not. So, he likes to remind us at dinner that he sure would like Pikmin 2 for Christmas. It's all he really wants. Well, that and every Skylander toy that has every been shipped from China.
For a little variety, I noticed, my son found some non-gaming items in the Target and Toys R Us catalogues. For instance, there's the $224.99 Power Wheels 12-volt Corvette mini car. For ages 3 and up? Who buys their 3 year old a battery operated Corvette?
That is setting up some unrealistic expectations. He has kindly circled every battery operated vehicle on this page as well. Thank you, Sweetie, for the many options of gifts you will never receive.
Like many kids this year, my children loved Despicable Me 2, especially my boy. He loved it so much that he wants every giant plush talking character from the movie.
Wow, at only $59.99 why wouldn't I want all of these toys uttering 30 different phrases from the movie? Good choice!
For the I'm a disgusting, testosterone-filled boy toys, my son doesn't disappoint: a Despicable Me 2 Fart Gun (No) and the NEW! The Ugglys Electronic Pup, complete with farting, burping, barking, growling, and other 30 "repulsive noises" (Also, no). We have two burping, farting, rubbing-their-ass-on-the-rug real dogs. These gifts are superfluous.
The most surprising gift circled in the catalogue with my son's name scribbled above it is the following:
Elmo Junction? That's adorable! Sure you're going on 7 and will never play with it, but it's under $50, it doesn't fart or talk, and it's not likely to cause withdrawal symptoms so I'm going to say yes to this one.
Okay, I realize that my post bears resemblance to a very funny post by Drew Magary about his daughter's insane Christmas list, but trust me, I've been percolating on this post longer than he did (this started at Halloween, people!). I'm just slower and less successful than Magary.
As I leave you with the Christmas longings of my obsessive son, I feel remiss if I don't include a few gifts that you might want to purchase for your own children or loved ones:
For spiritually confused, double holiday celebrating children like mine.
Remember, kids, don't do meth, but do try delicious meth candy. Seriously. This exists.
Happy Holidays to you all!
May you get everything you want, including world peace.
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