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For kids, it’s easy to believe

THURSDAY, DEC. 25, 2008

Winter Wonderland – a time for believing

The snow that buried us last week ruined Christmas plans for many families and made life difficult for nearly everyone. But for most kids under 12, the fact they found themselves living in a winter wonderland just helped make it a little easier to believe this time of year – easier to believe in the magic of Christmas.

While adults were spending time worrying about getting rid of piles of snow and finding enough money to pay for Christmas, most boys and girls spent their time worrying about two things – wondering if Santa had made up his mind as to whether they had been “naughty or nice,” and wanting to make sure he knew what was on their “wish list.”

Kids took different routes to make sure the iPods, stuffed animals, racecars, Barbie dolls, televisions, and new puppies they requested showed up under their Christmas trees. Some sent a letter to Santa up at the North Pole, asking to be put on the list for an American Girl doll, anything Spiderman, a scrapbook, a Sponge Bob blanket, big fluffy slippers, or maybe a Dora Pirate Playhouse.

Those who chose to write to Santa usually began with a disclaimer: “Dear Santa, I’ve been good this year – well, mostly,” or something similar. After making their plea for sainthood, most tried to soften the jolly old elf up, by showing concern for his health, asking after the Mrs., or promising him goodies when he stopped by. A few even promised carrots for the reindeer in addition to Santa’s sugar cookies – extra insurance, perhaps.

Other children stood in line at local shopping malls to whisper their wishes into Santa’s ear. From toddlers to adolescents, kids asked Santa for ice skates, red penguin pajamas, a volleyball, a cash register, Barbie dolls, and a Clone Voice Changer Helmet. They asked for Lego sets, building blocks, DVDs, and even Ming Ming toys (whatever those are), before posing happily for Santa’s elf and her camera.

Still others, including over 400 kids from Rathdrum, shared their wish lists with Santa’s elves via a satellite connection to the North Pole. “That’s more than last year,” said Kevin Aaronson, who set up the connection for the Rathdrum Parks and Recreation Department. He said most kids named one or two things they wanted for Christmas, but a few had more adventurous lists, naming pretty much any toy they could think of.

It was no surprise, according to Aaronson, that electronic games like Wii, PlayStation2, and Game Boy, continued to be the most requested items; but said there were still lots of requests for more traditional gifts like bicycles and dolls. “This year it was PS2s and Hannah Montana stuff,” he said.

Although Aaronson and other Santa helpers told the kids who called that Santa would do his best, it is unknown how many children actually received the gift that was at the top of their wish list – but I believe most do. I also believe that each year they awaken to find Santa has visited during the night and left them whatever they asked for, it helps them hang onto their childhood just a little longer; it helps them believe in the magic of Christmas.

And, while I understand the true message of Christmas isn’t about Santa Claus and gifts, I do think that a little bit of that Christmas magic doesn’t hurt any of us, especially during tough times like this. My Christmas wish for each of us is that we look outside and see a winter wonderland with childlike joy and the belief that Santa might step from behind the next snowdrift, or that if we look real hard, we just might see a reindeer prancing in the snow.

Contact correspondent Mary Jane Honegger by e-mail at

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