This post is written by guest contributor April Conway. April is a Reno resident who grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Besides her intimate knowledge of Santa and all things cold, she currently toils away in unflattering camoflague as a human resources officer at the Nevada Air Guard, introduces her Girl Scout Troop to new endeavors, concurrently eating a lot of cookies, and desperately tries to find time to moisturize. She’s lived on or traveled to all seven continents and firmly believes that dust and mud from each of those is still embedded in her carpet. April is a wife to Cotter (yeah, it’s a family name) and mother to two school-aged children, a near deaf dog, two cats who understand use of the litter box and one with irritable bowel syndrome who doesn’t. When that doesn’t keep her busy enough, don’t ask how much she’s invested in carpet cleaning, there are also two frogs who happily inhabit her house. She also slightly freaks out when the other April posts to RMB, thinking to herself, “Oh my gosh! What did I write and post while I was tipsy last night?”
Santa is verklempt. His elves, too. They have gifts for the Conway children in order. I mean, they’re still shoved high up in closets, hidden in from cursory glances, but they’re taken care of for the most part. So what’s keeping the big man up at night? Stockings. Yes, stockings.
I remember tripping to the hearth come Christmas morn and unearthing polka-dot socks, Hello Kitty pencils and other pre-pubescent treasures to keep on my dresser. My husband says Santa brought (and wrapped) necessary items like deodorant, toothpaste and floss in his bulging sock. There were occasionally oranges or bananas thrown in.
Unwrapping a box of Speed Stick? Apparently Santa was a bit more boring utilitarian in my spouse’s household.
My kids? Don’t need anything. I mean anything.
As it is I pick up and throw out multitudinous small bits of plastic toys, paper creations, barrettes, scented markers and Pokemon cards as if my life depended on it. Why would Santa deliberately spend extraneous cash on more of that crap just to fill up a stocking for one day? It’s all cute and fun until one realizes I’m not only wasting money, but supporting slave labor jobs for small people in countries who don’t even enjoy a belief that a magical, jolly being will float down to give them treats. How fair or economically positive is that?
I’ve spent far too many hours looking for long cylindrical bits of detritus entertainment to fit in the damn stockings anyway and I’ve solemnly sworn on Immanuel Kant not to buy one more merrily-adorned gloss or root beer flavored lip balm.
One year I switched it up and put edible treats in the stockings. A few small See’s candy boxes, candy canes, some puffy, sugar-begotten crap in red and green. I sprinkled in some dried fruit, nuts and an ez-peel tangerine or two. Within an hour the candy was eaten, wrappers strewn about with gleeful abandon and the fruit and nuts left to rot under the couch where the dog couldn’t dig it out. Don’t get me wrong, my dentist loved it, but, you know. I still occasionally find a wad of gum stashed in the blinds and realize I inadvertently taught the kids that holidays are about reindeer pretzels, minty jelly beans, and red and green M&M’s.
So if small, inexpensive toys are out, and if more unwise food selections aren’t the answer, what’s Mr. Ho Ho Ho to put in stockings?
My kids aren’t toddlers anymore. Coupons for trips to the library or a promised visit to Circus Circus to inevitably bring home even more stuffed animals and blow-up plastic things? I’m lukewarm on those ideas.
Gift cards? The kids know with absolute certainty there isn’t a Barnes and Noble in North Pole, Alaska in which Santa could pick those up. Nor is there a Claire’s for more
headbands or diaries, a Sports Authority or even a movie theater. I’m suddenly regretting that family trip to North Pole two years ago.
Santa’s out of ideas. His elves? They’ve got bupkis.
My kids are ages 11 and 8. I need help.