2014-12-18 / Opinions

Why did Santa always leave me hanging when I asked for gifts like hand grenades?

By KIP BURKE
news editor

This was always a worrisome time of year when I was a kid.

The question that kept me awake those December nights was this: had Santa heard enough bad stuff about me to realize how bad I’d been, and therefore leave me with nothing but socks and underwear?

I reasoned, as I lay there, that Santa had never really left me with nothing, so I figured there was some wiggle room. Just how bad a thing did I have to do, I wondered, for it to be reported up to the North Pole? Did my parents write Santa once with a complete list of my year’s misdeeds, or were they in frequent conversation?

And which parent did the reporting? I knew my Dad could keep a secret, but my mother? Boy, she’d rat me out in a heartbeat.

Eventually I realized that my being bad was probably costing me a lot of good presents, since some of the best items on my wish list got left off Santa’s delivery each year. Did each of the many sins I’d committed cost me an otherwise valid Christmas gift?

Or was it something else?

I did begin to notice a pattern – Santa seemed to only stiff me on certain gifts. For example, the years I was six, seven, and eight, I repeatedly asked for a case of official U.S. Army hand grenades so when my friends and I played Army we could make some real explosions, just like my TV hero, Vic Morrow on “Combat.”

Every year, though, no grenades. No Thompson machine guns nor bazookas either. Cowboy cap guns and a real cowboy hat, sure. Even plastic replicas of machine guns that made cool fake noises. But no real weaponry or explosives.

To me, that was clear evidence of a conspiracy between my parents and Santa Claus. As a guy, I feel like my Dad would have enjoyed the hand grenades as much as my friends, but I bet my mother always told Santa that if I got a case of grenades, I’d blow up the whole neighborhood, and told him not to bring those or any other weapons of destruction.

I wish I could remember the look on my dear mother’s face as I went through my Christmas list. I’m sure she was prepared for a 6-year-old wanting a B-B gun, and had the standard refusal ready: “No, you’ll shoot your eye out. Maybe next year.” But then I’d ask for a case of hand grenades, a flamethrower, and a little brother. Suddenly a B-B gun didn’t seem so dangerous.

Eventually it dawned on me that Santa might actually agree with my parents, and they just didn’t trust me. They all thought that automatic weapons, explosives and, oh yeah, motorcycles, were actually dangerous in the hands of school-age boys, and that they didn’t think I was mature enough at age 8 to toss a grenade safely, or ride a Harley safely, or any of that fun stuff.

Killjoys, they were.

Of course, I ultimately grew older, and pretended to grow up, and developed a more mature relationship with Santa. As a dad, I even conspired with him to keep my sons from getting anything that would be too much fun, like hand grenades. Now that Santa and I are on the same side, I fully understand what kept him from fulfilling my explosive wishes every year.

But what I don’t understand is why he’s still ignoring my standard adult Christmas request: I want a Shelby Cobra vintage sports car that will go 200 mph.

Honest, Santa, can’t you trust me now? Wait a minute – you’re not in cahoots with my wife now, are you?

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