Sunday, December 23, 2007

The 'Santa' Clause

Looking on my windowsills, how many more cards can I count with someone’s cute kid sitting on Santa’s lap rattling off the toys they’re expecting? Or these days, a little person with a kid-blackberry texting his list.

Just waiting on Macy’s massive snaking Santa-line should tip off any young believer that no celestial sleigh could hold enough toys to satisfy this pre-noon store crowd, let alone all the children in the world. But kids at Christmas choose not to think logically; or maybe they know they’ll get more from the grown-ups by playing innocent just a little longer. Whatever. Despite the thousands of Santas everywhere in Manhattan alone, kids are still making a list and checking it twice.

There ought to be a few rules….like if it doesn’t fit through the chimney, it’s probably not a reasonable request. Like an SUV…or a sailboat. A polar bear. These aren’t Santa-esque gifts.

Last year I was surprised more mortgage brokers weren’t dressed up as Santa Claus, holding court in real estate offices, enticing first-time buyers to come sit on their lap and read aloud the qualities of their dream-house. Because a ton of these Santa-mortgages were stuffed down the financial chimneys of homeowners who couldn’t possibly have accommodated such instruments.

So my question this year is: where is the Santa ‘clause’? The 5-year warranty or guarantee that this overstuffed gift is going to be serviced, maintained and supported by the giver? Did any kid get an internet-ready device with the broadband pre-paid? A new phone with the plan already in place? The Santa clause instead seems to imply that once dropped down the chimney---’no backs’.

Same with the mortgages. Now that these Christmas dreamhouse payments have ballooned, where is Santa? How many homeowners in default are waiting on line at Macy’s for the disguised real-estate elf who last year patted their cheek and shook their hand and went off to prepare the paperwork which awarded them an enormous palace that couldn’t fit down 20 chimneys? But they believed in Santa Claus. They believed in America and the reindeer and burned the 2006 Yulelog and bought their kids even bigger presents to go in their super-sized new rooms. Some of them bought extra vehicles to go in the new huge garage. A friend of mine got a pool. Unfortunately he lives in Georgia where global warming irregularities have caused an unprecedented and worrisome water shortage which disallows shower use on odd days, and mandates that all pools remain empty. But the Santa clause prevents him from complaining. No returns on pools. Like ice-skates. No one guarantees the lakes will freeze. Make your own ice.

For those of you who asked Santa for money last year, your 2006 gift is now worth even less. But 'No backs,' says the Santa clause. The government will take your house, though. They’ll take it and give you bad credit in exchange. What kind of clause is that?

In fact the Santa clause may indirectly take away my personal tax money or lower interest rates once again in favor of the banks. Merry Christmas 2007. Which makes me a loser for trying to save money. Interest rates on my savings account don’t even keep up with rising milk prices. A penny saved is still a penny? Barely. In England it isn’t even worth a half-penny. At the grocery, cashiers used to disallow Canadian coins. Now they want them.

So think twice about what you wish for while sitting on the lap of a man with a fake beard and a padded red suit who is probably working on commission and needs the money. Maybe you’re better off going to church and putting some coins in the collection plate for starving children and thanking God that you are going to any home to sit by the Yule log and read the traditional version of the Santa Claus story which you can buy very cheaply for your children in any bookstore under ‘Fiction’.

Oh. I almost forgot to wish you a Merry Christmas. And drive carefully, Santa.

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