Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Merry Ho-Ho and Home Decorating

The Globe's Style Counsel this morning landed in my inbox with some lovely Santa-inspired temptations -- Open-concept kitchens have spawned a survival-of-the-most-stylish competition for tools of the trade -- it starts off.

It goes on to describe the product -- the Circle Knife with Board is so perfect that we'd even go out on a limb by calling it the Vitruvian Man of cooking utensils. The possibilities are endless, as nuts, chocolate and fine herbs all surrender to the blade. And the thick beech wood board shows off proper proportions by cradling the knife beautifully when not in use.

At $149- Santa will be tossing them down chimneys with gay abandon!

The Santa thing is a bit of a conundrum for Christians. While you don't want the emphasis on it, you can't exactly shrug off the red-clad old gent -- try explaining the true mystery of God becoming human, while denying that reindeer can fly or that a fat old man can deliver a billion presents in a night.

I found out the hard way. Two years ago, my son was 10 and asked The Question -- whether Santa was real. I thought he already knew/suspected and was merely looking for confirmation, but when I told him the truth (adding the true St. Nick origins to soften the blow) he did not react well -- bursting into tears and running to his room.

I should have known better. The previous year, after I told him his Christmas list was too expensive, he shrugged it off with a "Why worry? Santa's paying." A lie came quickly to my lips: Well, Santa has financial limitations, and parents have to top things up with a check made out to the North Pole workshop.

Which kinda brings me back to the style counsel email -- the quick answer is do the ka-ching thing and hope, like my son did, that someone else is paying (a benefactor with an arsenal of ATM-like qualities perhaps).

It's made me think about the desire for mystery -- we all want to inspire our children and each other with true beneficence and there's nothing quite like the delight on a child's face when they get a letter from Santa (as my 6-year-old did the other day -- she's so excited, she's already planning what kind of special repast to leave out for him).

It's this promise of wonder in exchange for the buying and delivering of delight that motivates much of our Christmas shopping. At the risk of sounding like Scrooge, it's like candy -- tastes good for a bit, but has absolutely no nutritional value. And the post-sugar letdown is not so magical.

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