Monday, December 28, 2015

Operation Santa

You know that awkward moment when someone gives you a present you weren't expecting? It happened to us this Christmas. And the unexpected gift giver was Santa. No, not the Santa that is TLOML and I and a Target spree. Another, mysterious Santa.

The backstory: Lady P and I wrote a letter to Santa a couple of weeks before Christmas. I did the writing, she dictated. 'A candy cane, a lollipop, and a book of Gruffalo songs' she said. 'And a bicycle?' I suggested. 'And a bicycle', she agreed. It probably goes without saying that these are all items either she has had her heart set on for a while, or we had decided to give her for Christmas. Or, happily, both.

We walked together to the post box to post the letter, addressed to Santa at the North Pole. I didn't put a stamp on it. I wasn't expecting it to go anywhere. I just wanted to kill half an hour, expose her to some fresh air, and build up a little Christmas anticipation. I thought no more about it, except to remind her a couple of times of what she'd asked for, as I went about my Christmas shopping.

On Christmas Eve a cardboard box arrived, addressed to us, with this postmark:

Inside were a lot of parcels, addressed to someone called 'Fran', from Santa. I immediately said 'these aren't for us, there's been a mistake'. But TLOML urged further investigation. Some of the gifts were wrapped but others were in a gift bag so we could see what they were. A lollipop, a candy cane, and a Gruffalo toy with a companion mouse. Basically all Lady P's dreams come true.

I googled Operation Santa. It turns out it's a scheme whereby someone - who presumably is not (like most of us) saying 'Oh I wish I had more Christmas shopping to do' - can adopt a letter to Santa. Someone adopted Lady P's letter and decided to go nuts with it. Which is really very generous and very sweet. And the fact the gifts were addressed to 'Fran' can be put down to my appalling handwriting, on that letter I never expected to be read.

And yet. The thing is, we already had most of the gifts she asked for covered. And Lady P is far from needy. The gifts we were sent from Operation Santa were both more than she needed and worth more than those we donated to the local toy drive. So I feel guilty. I made the best of it, by stashing the toys for her birthday and donating the rest. Be careful what you wish for, middle class parents. Your wishes may come true and you will be struck down with guilt and a surfeit of gifts.

I hate to sound churlish. And she will absolutely love those Gruffalo toys, so we're very glad of that. Also the lollipop. They are surprisingly hard to find. I had tried CVS, Rite Aid, Vonn's, Ralphs and Whole Foods in search of one. All I could find are large bags of lollipops - who buys those?! - or large lollipop shaped cookies. I just wanted one big, special treat lollipop. We were going to end up giving her the one they give away at the dry cleaners, until the parcel arrived.

I think next year we'll do all our Christmas shopping and then put on the letter to Santa anything that isn't easy to buy in Hermosa Beach. Since some dear soul out there takes such great pleasure in fulfilling kids' dreams, let 'em at it.

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