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The Problem With My Kids’ Christmas List*


I’m having some issues with what Alex and Nora are asking for from Santa. They are small issues—literally. Here’s what I mean:

Alex’s list:

  • a violin
  • a marshmallow gun

Nora’s list:

  • candy
  • something pink

And…that’s it! We grill them almost every day now to see if they’ve come up with more ideas and the lists haven’t changed. We offer ideas and they don’t bite. Alex has been obsessed with a violin ever since his idol (my nephew Andrew) started playing it at school but I’m not going to buy him a real violin so I need to see if they make fake ones that look real because he won’t go for anything that doesn’t look exactly like his cousin’s. And because it's one of only two things he wants, I feel like I have to get it for him, right? I have no idea what a marshmallow gun is but I just googled it and it seems violent and messy and sugar-laced. Do I really have to buy him that? Nora's list is just as vague and silly as last year (she wanted a flash light above anything else), and it's classic Nora. The good thing is I know my kids will be happy with whatever Santa comes up with but the bad thing is they've given me zero ideas. And, naturally, I'm behind and overwhelmed and stressed out about all of it already. 

Even more troubling: I’m fielding daily calls from my mom, my mother in law, my sisters, the north pole etc., wondering what my kids want for Christmas. "Can you just give me an idea?" they plead. I wish! To be honest, anything I’ve thought of that the kids might like, I want to get them so that there is something under the tree! I don't want to wind up with a lot of filler crap though so I really do want to get them stuff they want and will like and use. Which requires thinking and research and time, which I just don't feel like I have right now. I know we have 19 more shopping days and I don’t even plan to light a fire under myself until at least next week but this lack of a list is really stressing me out. Particularly since I am kind of picky about this stuff to begin with. Nick and I perused some online sites last night and pretty much vetoed everything (a pink, princess-themed easel? why?!). Of course I know I can get Alex art stuff and sports stuff and cooking stuff and he’ll love it. Ditto for Nora and I’ll throw in a doll or two and maybe a pink flashlight. But I also want them to get some things that they specifically ask for because that’s what makes the whole Santa thing fun, right? And that's what makes my job a little easier. So how do I get them to ask for stuff? They don't watch TV with commercials so that's out. I remember the giant Sears catalog that would come to our house as kids and we’d scour it and doggy-ear it and circle stuff we wanted. Do they still make that thing? 

Have your kids given you a list for holiday shopping? Any tips for drawing ideas out of them? 

*I got some mean/judgy comments about this post over at's facebook page and I know I'm not supposed to care but I do and so I'm going to defend myself :) This was meant to be a funny, light-hearted post. I'm not really worried about my kids' lack of a list and I realize it's not a real-world issue. I should have said that obviously I'm grateful that my kids don't want a ton of expensive crap and that we're not pushing it on them by any means and also that we just don't buy that many gifts period. Any the kids don't expect it. We are not materialistic. Asking them what they want is more for the family members who hound me for ideas. And because it's fun to talk about giving and getting this time of year. But believe me I know what Christmas is all about and we donate a ton of stuff to toys for tots and other charities. OK, I'm done! (That said, thanks for all the other helpful comments and ideas!)