Wish lists

Another intriguing tale from my wonderful new US correspondent (erm, it’s my big brother, and no, he’s not being paid, unless you count his Christmas pair of socks. Oooops, I think I may have let the tinsel-decked cat out of the festive bag there). Apparently Santa in the States is now so thoroughly au fait with our dire economic times that he has been trained to size up a child’s parents when they plop their offspring onto his red-clad knee, and adjust present expectations accordingly.

At the Michigan Santa-training school – it’s said to be Harvard for Father Christmases – fledgling ho-ho-hoers are given tips on how to rein children back when they start listing the bewildering array of gizmos now necessary to support normal life even for the weeniest infants. One wise old shopping mall santa confides that he never confirms exactly what he’ll be putting in his sack come the 24th December, just advises the child to prepare for ‘surprises.’ Very useful advice for life, let alone for Christmas.

Meanwhile, though some children still expect the earth, other santas report having heartbreaking requests whispered into their whiskery ears. ‘One child asked for shoes that would fit. Another asked for food.’

Food for thought, indeed. There are lots of charities out there that help those less fortunate than us at Christmas – Crisis does great work in London, as does the Salvation Army. Worth a ponder, this year particularly.

I’m not sure whether my children have made the connection between the economic meltdown and the likely size of their stockings, but their demands seem modest this year. Maybe that’s because teenagers are quite specific – it has to be a certain scarf or nothing, or one brand of make-up. Do your children still expect the same number of presents as usual, or are they scaling down their Christmas lists?

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