The Christmas list tradition began when Emily was about 6 or 7. She and Joey would scour the Toys 'r Us catalog from the Sunday paper. I told them that Santa would not bring them more than 4 things and had editorial discretion if their lists were longer than that. Furthermore, he would not bring anything of which we did not approve. Emily questioned how he would know. Without skipping a beat, I told her that I could write a letter to Santa just as easily as she could and that he and I communicated all the time. She was in awe of my inside track with the big guy at the North Pole. Joey and Jack have embraced the same rules of engagement and I have never received an unacceptable Christmas list.
The lists quickly evolved into an invaluable tool for this time strapped elf. The kids would cut out the pictures of the items they wanted and paste them to a sheet of paper. I taught them to include item numbers, prices and sale dates so Santa would know when was the best time to purchase that which he could not produce in his workshop. Christmas lists were due by December 1, leaving me plenty of time to go to Amazon.com and place my shipping-free order. As the years rolled on, the lists continued to evolve with the kids' improving usage of Word. I eventually was presented with full color laser printed lists, complete with clip art in lieu of cutouts. Last year, Emily did not make a list as she said there was nothing she really wanted. I still received lists from Joey and Jack. This year, I only have a list from Jack, age 11, and I am realizing that it will probably be the last one I receive. To a certain extent, I am ready to let go of the charade. It can be exhausting. But with its passing comes the realization that my kids are leaving behind childhood and one of its most memorable traditions. Intellectually, I am ready to move one, but it still very emotionally conflicting.