Fantasy Christmas gifts within everyone’s budget

Two years ago Christmas Eve, I received a log cabin in Maine, a day at a spa and a vacation in Italy.

Snowy log cabinWe gave two of our kids brand new mini-vans, one of our sons-in-law an NFL franchise and our daughter-in-law a full-size washer and dryer.

The husband got a bookstore and his own newspaper chain.

It was a good Christmas, all right—and so economical. Nothing cost a dime. They were fantasy gifts. Few things are more fun than spending imaginary money. This must be what it feels like to be an elected representative in Washington.

We’re back to buying a few gifts this year, primarily for the pitter-patter of little feet. Try explaining fantasy gifts to the preschool crowd. Gift giving can be a source of angst, but what’s a holiday without some temporary insanity?

My mother used to keep a tally to make sure things were even at Christmas. I was puzzled by her compulsion and thought her scorecard was completely unnecessary, yet here I sit with an Excel spreadsheet open before me.

Nobody has ever played that “you like him best” card, nor can I imagine any of them doing so, but maybe it’s because I’ve kept things even by keeping a tally over the years. And if I hadn’t kept a tally, maybe things wouldn’t have been even and, well, it’s all a vicious cycle.

One of the grandkids has come in $4 behind the rest of the grandkids. I could pick something up online but shipping would put the kid $6 ahead of the others. I could even things out by getting the other six some trinket they won’t want, need or would look at a second time, but why add to the junk pile?

A couple of 2-liters would even the score, but who gives Mountain Dew to toddlers?

They’re all too young to chew gum.

Socks. Oh that’s exciting. Just call me Sock Grandma.

Maybe a new toothbrush and a little toothpaste. Toothbrush Grandma. She’s right up there with Sock Grandma.

It would be a whole lot easier to let a disparity stand, then if someone noticed just say, “That’s right, you’re my favorite this year. The rest of you need to try harder.”

Of course, I could be looking at this from the wrong angle. Why add to the trove to even the tally when you can subtract?

“Yes, some of you are missing the yellow and orange from your new box of crayons, but Grandma took them out to keep things even.”

The ace in the hole is my backup plan: “Listen kids, that doll might not have any clothes and Grandma may have taken the wheels off that truck, but she went a little crazy trying to keep things even. What do you say next year we bag this gift thing and all head to Grandma’s cabin in Maine?”

We’ll drive those new mini-vans we got your parents a few years ago.

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