"You better be good...Santa is watching."
"Write your letter to Santa, and I'll mail it tomorrow."
"Look! Santa only took a bite of every cookie. I guess he's worried about weight gain!"
Lies, every one.
When Shannon and Erin were young, I used my powers of persuasion. Our local toy store, Children's Palace, had Christmas layaway. Each September, I'd go shopping for their gifts and put down a deposit on them.
Then I put my master plan into action. I had three months to talk them into wanting the gifts I had picked out.
"Oh, wouldn't you like a microscope? I loved mine when I was your age!"
"Isn't the Barbie convertible cute?"
I messed with their minds, all in an effort to ensure that the gifts under the tree were the items of their fondest desires.
It worked like a charm.
With The Boy, I took another tactic. I did a good job of spoiling him throughout the year, he didn't need a lot of stuff at Christmas, and the apartments we lived in invariably had limited space for the ever-expanding load of junk.
I told him that Santa also had a limited amount of space on his sleigh for each child's toys - he could not ask for tons of stuff, or there wouldn't be room to store other children's toys on his Christmas Eve ride through the sky.
Also, economic times were tough, and Santa was on a budget. The Boy was allowed to ask Santa for FIVE gifts, and I had the power to deny a request if it was too expensive.
This ploy also worked like a charm - in fact, it worked a bit too well.
Each year, he'd eagerly write his letter to Santa, and ask for only FOUR gifts. Then he'd ask the big guy to bring me a book.
I must have been on the "good list" each year, because on Christmas morning, a book or two would be under the tree for me.
Now that they're all grown, the gift-giving schemes are over.
Gone are the days of poring through toy catalogs to pick out their favorite toys; I miss the magic in their eyes as they'd see the gifts that Santa placed under the tree. No stockings are hung by the chimney with care anymore. I miss shopping for Christmas pajamas, and for the little trinkets and candy that would be dumped out on the floor for closer inspection from their stockings (and the day that The Boy joyously yelled, "No coal!" after he dumped the contents of his stocking, sure that he had earned his spot on the naughty list).
Nowadays, I am glad that I can see the Christmas sparkle in the eyes of the grandchildren, as they await Santa's arrival, so they can sit by the tree and unwrap a bit of Christmas magic.
I don't practice the motherly dark art of Christmas manipulation anymore, and I won't be taking a single bite out of each cookie on a Santa plate (and dumping out the milk, because milk is yucky). I leave the manipulation in the capable hands of the younger generation, as they get to share the magic of Santa with their children.
Despite the cessation of my duties, I will consult NORAD to see where Santa's sleigh is on Christmas Eve, and think about
You can read about a magical Christmas Eve in my childhood here.