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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008
Some Late Christmas Thoughts

You probably remember the days when as a kid, you believed that the extent of your Christmas haul of presents was directly related to your pre-Christmas behavior. This theme was reinforced by popular culture that drummed into our heads that the Big Guy (Santa) had a list and we didn't want to be on the naughty side.

However the corollary to this rule was that after Christmas, your presents were no longer dependent on your behavior. After all you had possession as every kid knew from extensive experience in playground law that possession is 9/10ths of the law. The potential for homeland anarchy was readily present from the moment the last present was opened.

I was thinking of that the other day when I was going over some credit card receipts from last month's gift shopping and it also reminded me of a story.

Several years ago, when my oldest boy still believed in Santa, we were walking through the mall on the day after Christmas. While the mood was jolly, my mind was troubled by overhearing the oldest boy tell his younger brother that now it was after Christmas, they no longer had to live in fear of Santa's list. Clearly something had to be done to squelch this impending explosion of riotous behavior and the shopping mall provided a ready solution.

Walking through a department store, I commented to my wife on the large number of people waiting in line at the customer service counter. I followed-up with my oldest boy asking him if he knew why all the people were in line.

He did not.

I told him they were all returning presents that their children had received for Christmas but had lost due to naughty behavior.

My boy was momentarily crestfallen but recovered his poise and asked....

"If the gifts came from Santa then why are they returning them to Dillard's?"

Wow he got me there. I felt not only my credibility was being called into question but so was his whole belief in Santa. A career of giving testimony in front of angry review boards makes one very nimble so I replied....

"Remember when we saw Santa here a few weeks ago and we told you he was Santa's helper? Well starting the day after Christmas when he no longer has to play Santa, he is responsible for helping the store collect all the toys being returned from naughty children and making sure they get shipped back to the North Pole.... want to go back and meet him?"

Not only was it a very quiet car ride home, it was a very quiet household for the next few weeks.