Spent a couple of hours (!) wrapping gifts yesterday. I decided to be v smart and use the paper left from all the other years. About 5 years worth was in the attic.

I am a sick woman.

Looking back, I realized that my children believe in Santa until about 4th grade. Which was last year for Youngest. I don't know if they are naive or if we baby them but none of them asked anything about it until then. Youngest is certainly more savvy than his brothers were, but they were v diligent about keeping up the story. The whole santa thing. K and I work pretty hard to keep them young for as long as possible without ensuring they become members of the village idiot hall of fame. It can be a tough balance, but the world is ugly enough.

A few years ago, when Middle was about to turn 9, I was blissfully done with the shopping and all had been wrapped and hidden.

It was december 23rd.

We were sitting around talking about presents we'd hoped we might receive and Middle says, with big blue eyes and a soft gentle voice:

I really want that giant army helicopter. And I know if there is a santa he'll bring it to me.

[INSERT- I am fully aware that children can be manipulative. I guess you would have to raise Middle for - oh - 8 or 9 years to know that HE is NOT.]

I looked over at K and had just a slight stroke. I had not heard about this giant army helicopter, I had no clue he'd wanted it and I guess you can tell, I HAD NOT BOUGHT IT.

K and I reconnoitered to the kitchen for a meeting. K said:

This isn't the way he is going to learn there is no santa. We have to find it and buy it...

I am sure he said other things but my head was awash in logistics. It was about 8pm. It was the 23rd. It was 12 degrees outside. I don't think we were internet people then. Can that be? I remember running upstairs and going through all 3500 christmas catalogues in my room and finding it. Finding the picture of the giant army helicopter. AT FAO SCHWARZ.

Hopped in the car. Drove like a crazy woman. Got to the store. Fortunately they were open until, I don't know, some god forsaken hour like 10 or 12. I was a lunatic. I must have looked like a crazy woman.

People in the store were FIGHTING over things. Things that were on TV that my kids never even asked for, Barbies, trucks...the store was in terrible condition. The employees looked as though they had given up all hope.

In the back of my head I heard K's voice telling me that this couldn't be the thing that ruined santa for Middle. And deep in my subconscious I was remembering a story my father told us.
He told us about a wooden cannon that he had asked for for christmas --- and had not received.
He would joke about it, and we would too. We'd give him a wrapped gift and he'd say-
is it my wooden cannon? Now, he's gone and I wish I had had the same resources and savvy that I do now. I would have loved one of those presents to have been that cannon.

I had to have that helicopter. There were giant army men, all their supplies, humvees, ships --
only FAO SCHWARZ had toys like these. The attention to detail was amazing.

I found it. It cost a fortune and I bought it.
The box took up the whole back seat of my little car.
It has been cherished as a great toy.
But more than that -- it has been cherished as a great story, because it bought all five of us one more year of childhood.


L. said…
...ah the wooden cannon story...now find a way to work in the the flannel shirt story and its a hat trick.

Mine changed their lists ten times before we told them they would send santa to the emergency room with a case of hypertension.

But is it my imagination or is everyone buying everyone Burburry scarves this year...I think I saw a dog wearing one the other day, which is a double whammy since animals should never , ever wear cloths...unless its from victoria's secret. Nothing like a nice sheep in a g-string...baa (humbug?)
Anonymous said…
Hypertension ( having a BP consistently over 140/90 ) can lead to long term health effects. With Santa's weight issues, and the stresses of his job ( and I hear the elf unions really have him over a barrel ) MI or Angina is probably just a short sleigh ride away....god I hope I passed my EMT final.

And for the record, on my last ( very cold ) camping trip, the Abby dog wore polar fleece. she was shivering steadily (oy! a sign of hypothermia! Charecterized by uncontrolable shivering, decreased temp at the extremities, and flushed skin at face and chest as your body shunts blood to the core organs....) and she looked very cute. she DOES NOT have any VS.

I don't remember the Flannel story?

L. said…
As children we were not allowed to own flannel shirts. For christmas our father (who art in heaven, Ronald is his name) got three flannel shirts, he felt these shirts were worn only by the poor. Hence, we were not allowed to have them.