I'm going to share a secret with you.
I've never really been comfortable with the whole Big Man In Red routine.
Don't get me wrong, I love a rotund happy guy dressed for winter in the middle of summer as much as the next person.
And I totally get why we stand in line for ages and pay huge amounts of money for a digital photo of our offspring with a shopping centre Santa. (Kinda).
Like most parents, I experience that touch of panic - and often nausea - that accompanies the yearly writing of the Letters To Santa. In my case, the all-important letters increasingly become littered with exhorbitantly-priced, impractical presents, my kids have about as much chance of getting for Christmas as I have of getting a date with George Clooney. Bearing a new Nespresso machine. And a few months' supply of my favourite blends.
But where was I?
Oh right. Santa.
You see, the thought came to me again tonight, as the kids ran through their wish list again.
(Disclaimer: They know that a wish list is just that. That they will get maybe a few off the list if they are lucky. They know that Santa and parents and family and friends can't possibly give everything. Or even a tiny percentage of their list. But there's no harm in wishing, right?)
As a single Mum, I have a very limited budget, and I tend to have to be adventurous with my presents for various occasions. So far, I've always managed to delight them. The Santa ones have made them happy too.
But this year, it's a bit more challenging. And it's not just because of the cost factor. It's because of the logistics and practicalities.
And as a Mumma, I have to face the truth (once again) that I can't give my kids everything that they want. (And even if I could, that would be wrong, right? Because that would be totally spoiling them, and turning them into brats, and no one wants that. But still, the guilt that I can't make at least some of those wishes come true hits me in the guts like a bad case of eggnog.)
Anyway, in a bid to share my angst, here are some of my Christmas angels' wishes.
For both, the obvious ones include being able to live in our old Riverhills home with me; being able to pick the mulberries from the trees at our old home; having our old pets back, Daisy, Zac, Lolly and Narnie, who we reluctantly gave up when we moved to New Zealand; Chase's friend Nick being better again; Harmonie's favourite guinea pig Star not having been eaten by the carpet snake at our old home; and moving to Western Australia.
Now for the individual lists:
Nintendo DS 3 with the 3 turned off and the DS Skylanders Games
My own puppy (a real puppy, preferably a toy poodle, or malteser (toy poodle, maltese cross)
A yabbie farm
Proper cooking tools so I can cook yabbies on the barbeque like Uncle Stuart
Good fishing gear and a beach nearby to fish at
A bike and helmet
Rabbits, especially a Mummy and Daddy rabbit who will have lots of baby bunnies for me to look after (Mumma's note to Santa: Illegal in Qld.)
My own dog. Maybe one I can carry in a handbag. I don't really mind. It could be a rescue doggy.
A real pony. And a home for it.
Lots of good fishing stuff and a fishing boat.
Trashies and glueys
My own computer
A phone so I can talk to Mumma whenever I want
A bike and helmet and maybe a scooter
Now clearly, most of these are not going to happen.
They are either too expensive, cannot happen because I am renting, or because of geography.
So Mumma and Santa are going to have to come up with some Christmas magic again this year.
But this is the thing.
In my days as a young magazine journalist, pre-kids, I remember writing a story with a child psychologist about the harm and confusion that Christmas can do to children.
And I remember feeling this myself as a child.
First, there is the obvious fact that year-round we tell our kids not to talk to strangers, to trust their gut instincts etc, then practically force them to sit on some strange man's lap.
A man we will allow to enter our house and eat our food and drink our milk. But leave presents, which somehow makes it all right. Which is all kinds of wrong, right?
Stay with me here.
Secondly, there is the Not Fair Effect. And I remember that feeling to this day. Being told that Santa comes to kids who are good, Is Not Good.
Because as a child, I remember thinking: 'But I've been really, really good. How come I only get one crappy bible book, and that nasty bully from school got all those toys and a cabbage patch doll? She wasn't good at all! And I was really, really good, and all I got was one present and it was religious one and wasn't fun at all?'
And no one could explain it to me!
So how will I explain to my kids that the nasty kids who play up all the time and talk back to their parents and pick on smaller kids in the playground will get the iPads, and the Skylanders, and the puppies? Even though they haven't been very, very good?
And that my kids, who are freaking awesome (though I accept I am biased), will get very much less?
Where is the Christmas miracle in that?
And yet, I know the kids and I will have a wonderful Christmas. Even though I won't get to celebrate the actual day with them this year. (My turn is next year, such is the the life of a single parent), it doesn't really matter, because we will have our own celebration on Boxing Day.
And to us, Christmas is more than a day, and it is more than presents. There is still a part of me that likes to mark the religious part of things, and they learn this at their school too. We also celebrate the spiritual side and the coming together of family and friends. The festivities, food, and fun.
For all, children, men, women, young, and old, I wish you peace and happiness for December 25.
And at least something to make you believe in miracles.
And may Santa bring you at least something that is on your Wish List.
I'm hanging out for a Nespresso. With or without George Clooney!
One of Chase's first Christmas photos. Santa's little helper!
And this was from last year. The kids have made me join them in every photo they've had taken with Santa! (Maybe that don't talk to strangers thing has sunk in after all!)