Is there anything more magical and worth fighting for than the faith of a child?
I don’t think so either, but plans A through C haven’t worked yet. I’m getting desperate.
In our house, Santa Claus reigns supreme. Our kids realize and respect that Jesus Christ is the true reason for the season, but nobody doubts the contributions made by Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and Easter Bunny when it comes to magical creatures/beings. We even have a new addition to the crew – Red. He’s our Elf on the Shelf. We got Red a few years ago from some very dear friends of ours who thought they had given us a story book with commemorative figurine. What they didn’t realize was that they were giving us a month’s worth of homework each year.
Unless you’ve been sitting on a shelf of your own for the past few years, you know that the elf’s job is to watch over your children during the day. At night, he magically whisks back to the North Pole where he fills Santa in on how good or bad you’ve been. He flies back to your place in the wee hours of the night and hides somewhere different for the kids to find. This is mostly to hammer home the idea that he’s really magical. It’s a great parenting trick. The best part is that you’re not to touch him, or he’s at risk of losing his magic.
For the record, I don’t think Jake has the cognitive ability to question such an assertion. If Mom and Dad say that Santa’s real – he’s real. In fact, we have to reassure him each Christmas Eve that a stranger won’t come into his bedroom. I figure Liv’s the most worldly-wise of the kids, and will be the first one to jump ship and come over to the dark side of childhood, but for right now she’s firmly planted in the “still wants to believe” camp. I’m sure there are whisperings at school, but she’s choosing not to hear them.
Gabe is a different ball of wax all together. His faith in Santa, Ms. Fairy, etc. is solid and unwavering. He talks to Red. He shares his inner-most thoughts. He wouldn’t let us watch a movie the other day because he remembered that there were some naughty words in it that he didn’t want Red to hear. Gabe even made Red a Christmas ornament to take back to the North Pole with him the other day. Of course, this needed to be thrown away in the trash can at the convenience store down the street, because obviously there’s no earthly reason why it should ever appear around our house again.
Here comes the problem.
Annie, our two year old Golden Retriever, chewed up one of Gabe’s Happy Meal toys this past weekend. He put it next to Red (who was hiding in a potted plant), and asked him to take it home with him that night so that Santa could fix it. I think the non-parent answer is simply to respond with “That’s a McDonald’s toy, Santa doesn’t make those – they come from China.” While a decent way out, it’s just not good enough. Gabe earnestly believes that Red is going to help him out. No questions asked.
I put the offending toy in my pocket and headed off to work. I stop at McDonald’s every day for a coffee, and plead my case to the drive-thru window lady, Amy. She understood completely, but told me that the toys come in opaque plastic bags. There’s no real way of telling which toy you’re going to get until you open it. Thanks, Ronald.
Being a wonderful person, she ran to the bin and tossed me a bag. I opened it, but it wasn’t the right one. I told her I’d be back at noon to buy as many Happy Meals as was necessary to make this work. She told me not to worry about it, and that we’d find a way through this. I thanked her, and texted Beth saying that things were looking up, and that the sanctity of Santa’s magic would be kept intact another day.
At noon, I rushed over to McDonald’s, only to find Amy had left for the day. The counter lady wasn’t aware of any toy left out for me. Oh well. I ordered a Number 2 and a Happy Meal toy. It turns out you don’t have to buy a Happy Meal to get the toy; they’re only $1.75 each. Once again, I was unsuccessful.
As I ate my Quarter Pounder, I pondered my options. How could I just let this go? On the other hand, how far could I allow this to go?
I finished my burger and went back to the counter and asked for five more toys. I carefully palpated them, caressed them, and tried to remember what the little blue guy looked like. In my mind, his horns were kind of sticking out, so I kept one of the five she brought me, and asked for four new ones. Finally, I settled on five likely candidates. I opened them all, only to be disappointed.
At this stage of the game, my collection was up to eight.
Granted, they’re only $1.75 apiece, but let’s recap: he got one with his meal, I was given one free, and I bought 6 more. With tax, I’m into this project for nearly $12.
I looked at these little buggers on my desk throughout the afternoon, weighing my options. I polled the audience. It was split between writing the note, and buying more toys. I tried to contact Amy, but was unable to do so.
After work, I swung by McDonald’s and bought ten more. $18.90. I asked the guy to dredge from the bottom of the barrel, since I’d pretty much picked over the top portion. I sat in the front of the car in the parking lot, my hopes getting smaller and smaller as each package I opened seemed to contain ANOTHER Green Bay Packer.
So, here I sit.
Hopefully, I’ll see Amy tomorrow. Maybe she’ll have the answer I’m looking for.
I’m so thankful to have married Beth, perhaps the smartest and coolest chick I know. Firstly, she was totally OK with me spending $30 so far in efforts to make this little miracle come true. Secondly, she gave me the idea of asking McDonald’s to extend for me a line of credit – that way I can sit and open as many as I have to without paying for them in lots of ten. I’d have been pretty bummed this afternoon to have bought ten, and found the one I needed on the second try. As it is, I have to throw them all away. I have no good excuse for owning them.