…Santa finally came.

We have kids. Kids want to believe in Santa. But if Santa brings our kids a bunch of presents and doesn’t bring as many to their classmates, or vice-versa, then he’s a dickhead. So how do we play this game and keep him a good guy?

We decide to tell the kids that the presents under the tree are from us, and that Santa will bring them one small(ish) gift they can specifically ask for. So we take the girls to a mall Santa early in December each year and listen in on what they want, then put that in their stockings. Boom: Egalitarian Santa.

Except Covid hits, so we can’t see Santa in 2020. No problem. We have them write letters. The kids ask for cupcakes and candy canes – simple. Easy. We can get Santa supplies at any 7-11. Santa delivers in 2020.

2021 comes around. Kids are getting their second vaccines on December 1. So instead of writing to Santa, we figure, let’s go in person. They’ll love the change of pace. But we push our luck a little and go see Santa on the 19th, since that’s the earliest weekend they’ll be fully vaxxed.

Our eldest has been asking for a Venom stuffy for weeks. And our youngest keeps asking for a Spiderman stuffy. Both are doable, even with limited Amazon delivery days left. So we figure this is in the bag. We go see Santa. Our eldest asks for Venom. Check. It’s in the cart already, just got to push the button. Our youngest goes to place her request.

She asks for a Nowhere King stuffy.

What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s a stuffy version of the villain from Centaurworld, a fun but also extremely recent (and therefore relatively merchandise-light) show on Netflix. It doesn’t exist. It might not ever exist. And finding a lookalike is tough, because the Nowhere King was not designed to be a stuffed animal and nothing on the market remotely looks like an acceptable knock-off that we could pretend to be a Nowhere King. He looks like this:

My wife and I have no clue what to do. We scramble. We check to see if anyone has started selling bootleg Nowhere King merchandise. And while some folks have, pickings are slim. The closest we can find are bedsheets. But she didn’t ask for bedsheets.

So we think about making one ourselves. We look for things we might be able to Frankenstein together. There’s this “Long Horse” character I’d never heard of that somehow made it into plush form. I start pricing out the pieces – what if we get that, then sew some felt reindeer horns on, then sew black cloth on the body of the horse thing, and shove stuffing in there? That’s sort of a stuffy, right? Except it’ll cost like $100 for all the supplies and be four feet wide. Not exactly a small gift anymore – especially not next to her sister’s modest Venom.

So we start thinking more abstract. And miraculously, we find a shop on Etsy that sells cute skeleton versions of various animals, including deer. Like this:

Close enough. So we place an order, grateful we live in the Age of the Internet. All things are magic now.

But one problem. This particular seller is in Russia. Between making the stuffy and shipping, it’s going to be 3-5 weeks, minimum. Maybe longer. Plus, given world events, who the hell knows.

So we come up with a cover story. We write our daughter a letter from Santa. In it, he politely says he wanted to bring her a Nowhere King, but it was too scary for the elves to make, so he has to go back to the North Pole and make one on his own after delivering everyone’s presents. But since the reindeer are scared of it, too, he has to drive back, so it might take awhile.

We email the letter to a family friend who graciously volunteered to hand write the letter (thanks again!) and she prints it out on nice cardstock with a candy cane letterhead. Then we drive out to her house to pick up the letter, carefully pack it in a rigid envelope to keep it flat, and bring it back home under lock and key to preserve the integrity of our ever-growing lie.

Christmas morning comes and the girls are mystified by this letter. They’re excited to receive positive confirmation that Santa is indeed listening. So now we just wait.

Except… the kids fear Santa will not be able to deliver on his promise if we put away our Christmas stuff. Wherever would he put the present?

So fast forward to today, and after weeks of waiting, I can finally put away our tree and all the lights. And that is why today is worth it.


…I do not have to do manual labor as a gift. This time.

Today is my dad’s birthday. The most common gift he asks for is “a few hours of your time,” which always sounds sentimental. But more often than not what he means is there’s a stack of wood or something he wants me to move.

The latest is a printing press that he used back in the ’70s and which is currently sitting in a garage in Pennsylvania. He’d like it to be here instead. But seeing as how there’s nowhere to put it right now, I’m temporarily off the hook.

Happy birthday, dad.


…my daughter and I are going to make an ornament.

This year, my younger daughter hung up three different handmade ornaments featuring a picture of herself on our Christmas tree. My older daughter didn’t, as there weren’t any.

These aren’t high quality decorations. Not being dismissive about it, they just aren’t. They’re little inexpensive crafts she made in school, or which her teacher made in school. And somehow, despite the two of them having the same teachers, my older daughter just doesn’t have any similar crafts in the Christmas bin.

She got jealous as kids do. So I promised we’d make one together. I have no idea what it’s going to look like, and I could probably get away with just punching a hole in a photo and calling it a day.

But we’re going to put some effort in it. We’ve got a project to work on together. And unfortunately, being that I’m turning into an insufferable old shit, projects are like the greatest thing. So I guess this is a double duty gift and she doesn’t know it yet.


…I was able to find that backpack clip my daughter wanted.

And I don’t know, maybe I learned a valuable lesson too or something.

We were doing back to school shopping at Target and she found this thing in their dollar section. And she really wanted it.

Problem is, this was at the end of a tiresome trip where we had to drag approval out of the kids for all the new clothes we were getting, and my mind was in “get me the fuck outta here” mode. So I defaulted to telling her no, put it back.

Except, A) she was actually being pretty good, it was her sister that had been acting like a pain, B) she has a ton of spare cash that’s been piling up from holidays these last 18 months in lockdown (which we forgot to bring on her first shopping trip of 2021 because there’s a lot of shit we forgot how to do in lockdown), and C) most importantly, the thing only cost a dollar. I mean leave aside all else, it’s one fucking dollar, who cares. That’s the cheapest I could ever hope to buy somebody’s love.

But I said no, and later when I was putting her to bed, she told me how disappointed she was that she couldn’t have the little ghost cat, and she hoped she could get it some day. Like it’s an aspiration now. So I said if I was by the store again I’d take a look.

Then like two days later I went to check it out, and surprise, no ghost cats. I don’t know what the deal is, maybe it was actually leftover stock from Halloween 2020 and she happened to pick up the very last one before I told her to put it back.

So now I feel like an asshole because I kind of am, and I can’t find it for sale on Target’s website. But lo and behold, eBay has it… for fucking $7.41. Almost an 800% markup on a thing that I wouldn’t even have had to pay for in the first place if I just I got out of my own head for a minute.

Anyway, I have the goddamn thing now and paid my grumpy pants tax. Don’t tell her it happened like this.