Scapegoat Santa

Tired of being the bad guy after all the presents are unwrapped and the kids are disappointed about all the things they didn’t get? Kellie Head suggests a tried and true scheme to weasel out of this uncomfortable position. Think about it: Why do you think Santa was invented anyway?

Move over Lee Majors, there’s a new Fall Guy in town, and he answers to the name of Claus, Santa Claus. He won’t be taking the plunge from a 40-story skyscraper on a Hollywood stunt set. Instead, he’ll be taking the rap for all the high-tech, high-priced, high-anxiety “gottahaves” on my kids’ Christmas list — the things I didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t get for them.

My plan to blame Santa for the material misfortune of my children this Christmas is likely the most diabolically ingenious scheme my frazzled mommy brain has ever conceived. Since they only see him once a year, I can reasonably explain how their toy order fell wayside to the obvious health demands of a 2000-year-old, over-grown elf, with a fetish for sugar cookies and milk.

His skyrocketing triglyceride levels alone make him the perfect candidate for a massive coronary — leaving the Grinch, a much leaner specimen, free to take over the Christmas Eve rounds.

The same kids, who I spent the better part of the year teaching to be socially responsible citizens, buckle under the heat of the Christmas lights and the mind-numbing melody of dogs singing “Jingle Bells.” Suddenly, and without notice, they are willing to sell Grandma’s prosthetic leg in hopes of bribing Santa into bringing them the new Dyno-Drencher LTD, with laser scope accuracy and detachable silencer.

In the good old days…
When I was a child, my mother would hand us the Christmas edition of the Sears catalog and a black marker. We’d spend hours poring through each and every page, hunting for the perfect toys for our Christmas list. We changed out minds dozens of times, crossed out hasty choices, triple-circled our carefully considered revisions and eventually crossed those out, too. By the time we finished our line-item vetoes, the catalog looked like a top-secret government document, reluctantly released to the media by court order.

My children, on the other hand, have no need for a paltry department store catalog. They have 60-some-odd cable television channels, which offer carefully selected commercial messages, designed to influence their every decision. Their lists, written in triplicate and parceled via the local trucking company weigh station, contain the complete commercial sponsorship of the Nickelodeon Network. That wastrel, Santa Claus!

After weeks of preparation, budgeting, sale searching and crowd fighting (by me), and whining, begging, pleading and justifying (by my kids), Christmas morning leaves us all a little deflated. The unwrapping ceremony generally takes a mere 20 minutes, while grumbling about what they didn’t get lasts until spring break.

“I guess Santa pulled another late night on the tread mill,” I offer innocently. “Or maybe Alzheimer’s is setting in.” As long as I stick to my story, I’ll be safe from their wrath.

I realize I am not the first to dream up the brilliant idea of using Santa as a fall guy. He is known around the world by many different names, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St. Nicholas–an obvious attempt at alias changes to beat the rap of smashing lavish childhood toy dreams. Scapegoat-seeking parents have turned this jolly man into a fleeing felon. Which also explains his residence at the North Pole. . .no extradition treaties.


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