The Four-Gift Rule

Per usual, Rinn got a head-start on Christmas this year.

I don’t know where he gets his enthusiasm from. It’s not like we put our tree up the day after Halloween or anything. Ok, that’s a flat out lie. I’m a premature decorator. Our stockings are hung with care earlier and earlier every year and at the rate I’m going it’ll be Christmas year-round at the Powell house by 2046. And for those of you who are going to pass judgement and prattle on with your “bah humbugs” and your “what about Thanksgiving?” Go ahead and message me with your concerns and lectures, I have an emoji perfectly suited for a quick response. Hint, it’s one from the hand collection.

Anyway, in years past Rinn has always drafted rather unique wish lists for the big man up North. Last year there was the battery-powered, 18 pound, automatic Nerf weapon and remember the electric toothbrush from the year before? Well 2019’s first draft was no different.

It went as follows:

2 $30 gift cards to Disney

Tennis balls


Yes, you read that right, TEN GRAND.

When I asked what on Earth he needs ten thousand dollars for he told me it was to pay for a family vacation to Disney World. Really, it’s the perfect balance of self-indulgence and thoughtfulness as he gets a trip to Disney World AND the whole family gets to share in the magical experience but if Santa were in the business of writing checks I’m pretty sure Travis would’ve already written his letter asking for enough cash to erect a fully equipped race car workshop.

I had to explain to Rinn that Santa and his elves have a budget just like the rest of us and if he asks for that much money he might wipe out all the funds allocated for the entire Eastern seaboard. Not to mention that he’d be really, really disappointed on Christmas morning because whatever amount of money he receives it’ll be missing a few of those zeroes. Needless to say, Travis and I don’t have ten thousand dollars just lying around; we are somewhere between having to live under a highway overpass and having enough disposable income to treat ourselves to the opening of the new Star Wars movie and actually buy snacks from the theater concession stand instead of smuggling them in under my sweater.

I’m pretty sure the conversation turned into us arguing over whether the elves even need money because as Rinn claimed “they MAKE toys, they don’t BUY them.” Then it turned into an economics lecture in which I explained modern manufacturing and the logistics behind production and how Santa seems like the kind of guy who probably compensates his elves rather than enslaving them with unfair labor practice and obviously all of that costs money.

I didn’t win until I had to remind him about the many times I told him not to take his soccer ball on our afternoon walks and the one time he didn’t listen he ended up kicking it into the steep roadside ravine and had to watch it float away in the runoff water and he needs to just trust me because I know everything.

You know, the typical mom spiel.

A second draft was issued and now Santa’s only on the hook for a bicycle, a Transformers megatron toy, some Dog Man books and a Green Bay Packers t-shirt.

While the Dog Man series isn’t necessarily my favorite (my opinion: the word diarrhea is used more times than necessary), these gifts fit solidly into my recently adopted ‘four gift rule’. Two years ago I talked at length about struggling to do all of this buying, wrapping and hiding of presents only to let Santa take all the credit. I also got atop my high horse and lectured about virtue and not allowing Santa to spoil Rinn because “not every child’s ‘Santa’ is capable of doing so”. Admittedly I got a little worked up because I’m pretty sure I referred to Santa as “a fat man in pajamas.”

Sorry dude, not my best moment.

Post-posting of that blog one of my readers commented that their family embraces the ‘four gift rule’;

Something you want,

Something you need,

Something to wear,

And something to read.

The rhyme makes me think that this came from the mind of Dr. Suess but since there’s no mention of Snorter McPhail and his Snore-a-Snort Band I can neither confirm nor deny my suspicions. Whoever it was that crafted this little verse saved me from stressing over Santa for the last two years you’re cool and we should grab drinks some time. I’m free next summer, call me.

Rinn is still struggling with the concept of want-versus-need as demonstrated when he said “I NEED a bike because I NEED to learn how to ride a bike”. Needs by definition are things that are essential; you know, food, water, air, shelter. But I had to give in because at least he came to the table with a valid argument and he’s right after all. Every kid NEEDS to learn how to ride a bike and I didn’t really realize until now that we had skipped over that right of passage. At around four years old he got a bike for his birthday. A bike with training wheels mind you. He still managed to careen out of control and crash it on his inaugural ride giving himself a bloody lip that I obviously got blamed for.

“YOU LET ME FALL” he yelled at me for a solid 48 hours.

Anyway, he seems to have finally overcome the emotional trauma and forgiven me for failing to defy the physical limitations of the human body to prevent him from falling because he’s ready to get back in the saddle. Or seat rather.

Everyone’s happy.

Rinn will get his wishlist.

Santa isn’t liable for a ridiculous amount of cash.

And I can go to sleep tonight knowing that at least one of the lessons I’m trying to instill upon my child is starting to stick; that “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, Christmas [might] mean just a little bit more.” Even if it took us a few attempts to get there.

Now I just have to work on getting his grandparents on board.

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