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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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« 4.2 | Main | On ingesting and gestating. »
Wednesday
Dec062006

Giving credit where credit is due.

Something, I can’t quite pinpoint what, prompted me to take a second look at my recent Thanksgiving post, and notice that it fails to mention a person who was instrumental in the day’s success. That person, friends, is my sister Liz. Liz, who has successfully hosted Thanksgiving, lo these many years. Liz! Who is ever forthcoming and patient with her younger sister when she calls with her many holiday-related questions. Liz! Who told me exactly how to schedule the creation of each dish so that I wouldn’t keep everyone waiting for turkey until 11 p.m., which I surely would have done without her help. Liz! Liz! Liz!

If only everyone had a Liz in their lives—their turkeys would be moist, their Thanksgivings fret-free. I’ll say it again: Liz!

And now, a Christmas question. Henry and I recently picked out a gift for a local charity’s toy drive, and he was asking me all kinds of probing questions about why this gesture was necessary on Christmas—when, after all, Santa Claus provides the gifts. How do you tell your little believer that there are some children in this world who don’t get presents on Christmas? Does Santa not give presents to the poor? Any clever answers here would be appreciated.

Reader Comments (62)

Just tell him that since the people are poor, they move around a lot looking for more work so they can earn more money - their mobile lifestyle would obviously make it difficult for Santa to find them on Christmas Eve. The donated toy is simply an insurance policy - a contingency plan - in case Santa can't find someone.

Then again, I'm not a mother. So take that with a grain of salt.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
Tell him that Santa wants Henry to help by being a good boy and helping those who need it. Even Santas need help helping others.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMin
Tell him that Santa wants Henry to help by being a good boy and helping those who need it. Even Santas need help helping others.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMin
I am not clever but simple....

Santa brings all of them gifts, but their Mommy and Daddy's and Grandmas don't have any money to buy them any other gifts and so you are going to contribute so they can have a toy instead of just underwear and socks.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDeb
My Mother told us that Santa likes givers. He sees us being nice; therefore, both the poor and me get a better xmas.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLisame
I second Deb's suggestion. If y'all do what my parents did, and split the haul between presents from Santa and presents from Mom and Dad, then you've got your in.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWeeze
Santa only brings presents once a year. And some kids get no other new toys at all -- even for their birthdays during the year. So, we're going to do something nice and give a less fortunate kid a little something extra that Santa may not have been able to do the rest of the year.

How's that?
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPammer
I explained the Toy Drive with it's there to help parents too. I also tell them Santa can't do it all. He doesn't bring tons of stuff or all the toys to our house. Why should he get all the glory? Also, I suck at remembering who brought what.

Another good line is that Santa will never bring a kid something the Mom and Dad don't want you to have, so no Bratz! One of my kid's best friend's was a Jehovah's Witness. It was tough explaining that, but I just said that Santa will always follow a parent's rules.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLB
If they dont have homes, they dont have chimneys for santa to come down so they can't get things from Santa. Depressing though.. and of course, if you don't have a fireplace, that blows that out of the water.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
Santa's had a particularly busy year and needs a little help in the present department. That's all you're doing. Helping out. These gifts are for kids who maybe didn't send Santa a Christmas Wish List kind of letter (write the letter NOW) so he will just be guessing what to give them.

It's all about helping the Big Guy.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLin
How about telling him that of course Santa brings the children presents, but you are helping out Moms and Dads who can't afford to get their kids things they want for Xmas.

I would say that sugar-coating the truth is important here.

I wouldn't say anything about Santa not being able to get to some kids. He's a magical guy and can do anything. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPlain Jane Mom
How about saying something like this...

Santa believe that we all have the duty to spread the meaning of Christmas to everyone. We give gifts to people who are less fortuntate as a way to say "Thank you" to Santa for all he gives us. Because we have so much all year long and they have so little it's up to us to help take care of them. Also by giving to them we get to see how good it feels to give rather than receive and we get to know a little bit deeper why Santa enjoys giving to us so much every year.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSparklieSunShine
That is a hard one. I love that my kids believe in Santa, and dread the day that they don't believe anymore.

Tell him the story of Saint Nicholas. We give out of love. Today is the feast of St. Nick, and he was an amazing man.

This is a great video: http://www.stjohnfisherforum.org/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=CCC7083







December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjody2ms
I think if you make it too complicated, it gets confusing and leads to more questions. Just say that Santa sometimes uses special people to help him out, because this is a big world with a lot of people. Henry should known he's pretty lucky to be chosen to help out. I love that idea.

And good on you for giving, Alice, and for keeping his sense of wonder alive at the same time.

I never bought Santa Claus as a kid, so that probably made it easy on my parents.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMeg
He is so smart, isn't he? :) Good question, Henry.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
This is tough. I guess my reaction would be that Santa knows that being nice also includes helping those of us who have less than us. Santa only brings each kid a few presents and wouldn't it be great to help out someone who has less than us?
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal
I'll echo the idea that you're doing something nice for kids whose families aren't able to afford to get them a gift. (Of course they're still getting something from Santa.)

What an amazing question!
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDelton
Growing up, for me, Santa always brought one big gift and the small gifts had my parents name on the "from" line. It made perfect sense to me.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertonya
I really like all the ideas, especially Plain Jane Mom. I always say that Santa depends on all of us to help him spread the christmas spirit. But I also talk about the whole Jesus thing and how God wants us to be generous with our gifts.

We also have an evening where we purge toys to give to others. Used toys but it helps my kids see how fortunate they are that they have so much they actually have to give things away in order to make room for new (we have a tiny house).

Next is allowance (my kids are 6 and almost 4). Can you do a post next on starting allowances? How much? how to split (we have piggy banks that have spend/save/give/invest slots)? do this - because it is all about me.... hee hee
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkim
What I'm curious is: what did you tell him? The little guy doesn't strike as the type who would be easily distracted.....
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNew Blue Shoe
I like the first answer and the additional, "Santa likes givers," type-answers. My niece asked how Santa got in our house - we don't have a chimney. I told her Santa shimmied in through the dryer vent. Out of the mouths of babes... :-)
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
I have no clever answers, I am sorry. I lie through my teeth and make up stories spur-of-the-moment with my kids, and then forget all about whatever it was I said 15 seconds later.You should ask Liz. What's her advice? because in my experience, those of us named Liz are, indeed, pretty awesome, although not all in exactly the same ways. ;)
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLiz C.
We tell our girls, who are just a bit younger than Henry, that the toys are to help out kids whose parents don't have enough money to buy toys. They believe in Santa, but we've been generalizing that Christmas is "about love and giving and sharing" and that seems to get the basic idea across, and makes them even more eager to pick out stuff for others. Also, like kim, we encourage the girls to choose toys they don't play with anymore, and give them away. (We actually do that a few times a year, whenever I've almost killed myself stepping over a toy only to slip on yet another toy, hidden by the first.)
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWendy
This came up just this week with my daughter and the stuffed animal drive at school. I told her that these kids don't have homes, so Santa can't always find them to leave gifts for them. She bought it, and she's in third grade. Might work with Henry, too.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSteph
Oooh, smart Henry! I like the advice from Plain Jane Mom. That's my vote.

Hey, you're in Jew Country up there... I'm sure this it will come up that his Jewish friends don't have Santa come. What would you respond then? Curious.

I'm a Jewish reader, we don't do Santa, and my kids have a good time telling their friends at school, "You've been really good this year, I bet Santa is going to bring you really nice stuff." They think of it as their good deed, to help their friends believe in Santa, because it makes them happy and their parents happy. I love my kids. :-)



December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjavamama

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