Dear Santa, please brings toys

There are 40 shopping days till Christmas.

I didn’t bother to work out how many Sundays and knock them off the score because this is 2008 and if God were making the world today, with all its high-rise office blocks, four-lane highways and giant oil tankers, he wouldn’t have taken a day off either.

And I’ve been Christmas shopping. It’s been a valuable exercise because not only have I bought most of the Christmas presents I’m going to give, but I know what Christmas presents I want to receive, too.

I want toys.

No trousers or shirts; no ties, no briefcases, no diaries; no iPods, no mobile phones. Mmmm . . . maybe chocolates are okay and possibly computer games so long as they’re ones an old person can understand; but definitely toys.

It was buying them that convinced me. I have seven grandchildren and I’ve bought airplanes and dolls, gyroscopes and bendy pencils, bubbles for the blowing of, jigsaw puzzles and trains and games and electronic dinosaurs that walk 30cm, then fall on their sides and impotently tread air till the batteries run down.

I’ve bought cowboy guns (for the boys) and dolls (for the girls) and don’t give me any of that nonsense about stereotyping. I’ve raised boys and I’ve raised girls and I know that if you give a boy a rock he’ll chuck it through a window and if you give the same rock yo a girl she’ll sing it to sleep. (I was going to say she’d rock it to sleep …  but what else can you do with a rock!). I’ve bought toys, and in the best traditions of gift-buying I’ve bought what I like; not what I think they’ll like. I mean – come Christmas morning I’m going to need some motivation to get down on my knees and play with them.

It’s about kids really, isn’t it? Even if you’re a grown up you need to get your head into a child’s space if you want to get the best out of Christmas. They understand the rules.

I rang my granddaughter yesterday, and in a spontaneous fit of premature festive spirit I cried out, in my best booming voice: “Yo ho ho! Have you been good?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Do you know who I am?”


“Well… er… all right then.”

“Do you want to speak to Mum?”

“I suppose so.”

“Muuu-um, Santa’s on the phone.”

There was a pause as my granddaughter wandered off to do something interesting. My daughter came to the phone. “Hi Dad.”

“How did you know it as me?”

“I thought it probably wasn’t really Santa.”

What about my granddaughter? Did she know, too?

I think she’s become disenchanted because every year since she was born she has sat on the knees of shopping-centre Santas. To her he is no longer magical. And if he were magical it wouldn’t be with flying reindeer and the ability to force a 200kg body down a 100kg chimney. He’d wear red knickers. Outside his tights. And he’d punch his way in through walls. His elves would be adolescent pole dancers with lipstick like blood and underdeveloped bodies. The reindeer would be dog meat and he’d power through the skies on, or in … I don’t know … a laser beam, maybe.

But all is not lost. There is still some hope. He might have lost the beard, more than few kilos in weight, his reindeer and his disgusting pipe.

But – he’d still bring toys!