Santa Claus is making his list and checking it twice. But essayist Peter Smith says when he was growing up, it didn't matter if he was naughty or nice. Smith came from a huge family, and even Santa had to be practical.
Smith: My parents had nine kids in a post World War Two hurry-four girls and five boys. For a while there, the stork came to town almost as often as Santa Claus did.
Our Christmases were practical. My mother spent weeks knocking out nine sets of Butterick sewing pattern flannel pajamas and night gowns. There were new socks and new underwear, And new toothbrushes. The so-called fun presents were practical too. I remember a lot of books and educational stuff.
Even old lady aunts-aunts who sent five dollars for your birthday-pulled their punches at Christmas. They sent cheap cufflinks. Or handkerchiefs. Or pen and pencil sets. Or, worse yet, new rosaries-black for boys, white for girls.
Meanwhile, neighbor kids from smaller families always got wonderful presents all to themselves. It didn't seem fair then, and for a lot of us big family types, it doesn't seem fair now.
So, Santa Claus, here are two "kid from big family" Christmas lists-one for boys and one for girls. This is the stuff we should have gotten instead of new socks and underwear.
We boys still want those electric hockey or football games where plastic players vibrate down the field. It's not for Play Station Three, but we don't care. It's the principle of the thing. Also bow and arrow sets. And knives. And sling shots. If those still seem too dangerous, send chemistry sets so we can make explosives.
For girls: Send bumper tennis shoes and "kickarino" boots. Also Easy Bake Ovens. And Barbie. Anything Barbie. Barbie shoes. Barbie hats. Barbie clothes. Barbie cars, playhouses-anything.
"I would have settled for Barbie's sister Skipper," one woman, a big family middle child who never got her Barbie, writes wistfully. "Or her friend Midge... Even her cousin Francine."
And both boys and girls want anything-anything-other than hard candy and an orange in the toes of their stockings.
C'mon, Santa. What do you say? Come across. Just once for the adult children of big families. Please...? Please...?
Although to tell the truth I sure would like a new set of Butterick pattern pajamas. In blue and white striped flannel. 48-Long, please.