George Mindling 12-20-2004 Column For Immediate release
The Christmas spirit is upon us, I can tell by the traffic jams and the long lines at the area malls. Santa must be getting a lot of help in loading his bags in preparation for his annual trip to children around the world. Maybe he's loading up for more than just children. After all, does the new GPS I want count toward the gift statistics the elves put together each year? I was a good little boy, comparatively speaking, and see no reason to get a lump of coal instead of an expensive new toy I would probably buy myself if it weren't for the ease of asking Santa.
Of course, I would have a harder time getting my official "gift request" through family channels during the rest of the year, but at Christmas, we all seem to get special dispensation for our normally difficult or nearly impossible acquisitions.
"Just how far out are we going in the boat?" would be the normal question if I asked any other time of the year. But at Christmas, a request for a world wide, handheld electronic navigational tool that can actually pinpoint your location to a few yards anywhere on the planet is met with a sweet, understanding smile. Even if it is a couple of hundred bucks that could be better spent on other things, like food or gas for the car.
Kitchen add-ons and new refrigerators just don't seem to fill the bill of Christmas giving, even if they are sorely needed. A new dishwasher for the wife will not get the same response as a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Of course, wives know Chanel is for the husband, but at least it beats a garbage disposal!
Husbands used to be resigned to the "new tie syndrome", but lately, men have been wising up as well. Kids have always understood the power of Santa. Requests for toys that would usually draw an immediate "NO!" are pondered with a wry smile by parents this time of year. Kids know they can cash in on their “Santa” leverage. It doesn't cost the kids a cent. Not even one extra chore or minute of household duty. In the spirit of the holidays, we cave in and give, give, give.
We adults, unfortunately, are still encumbered with the actual responsibility of paying the bills. I have heard of one family that has not paid off last year's charges for Christmas, and they are already shopping at a pace that will outspend last year. They have to spend more to give more than they did last year because things cost more this year. That must make sense to the elves who are pumping this stuff out as fast as it can get loaded on a boat, er, ahh, sleigh, bound for the U.S.
But what hey, it's Christmas! Even if I never get out of sight of land, I'll know I'm special to somebody special. Isn’t that’s what Santa’s sleigh is all about?