Operation Santa 2013: A Major Santastrophe

The Perfect Gift

E20131020085553gift-wrappingOur twin boys are as different as night and day. In true form, my decisive (and let’s be honest, quite materialistic) Jack knew exactly what he wanted from Santa over a month ago. Liam, the more pensive perfectionist, was stumped. Twice he sat on Santa’s knee and explained that he just didn’t know what he wanted (side note: the boys honestly believe that our mall has the REAL Santa while all the rest of you suckers have a wannabe).

After these unfruitful visits to Santa, Liam came to me with tears in his eyes explaining his fear that Santa wouldn’t bring him anything this year. He was convinced that since he had yet to tell Santa what he wants, he would probably wake up to nothing at all (which makes me wonder what kind of complex I’ve given him about being more decisive but I digress…). Of course the ever-optimistic Jack reminded him that they are indeed on Santa’s “Nice List” and in response, Liam looked at me tearfully asking, “well does Santa bring you a present that’s perfect for you even if you don’t know what’s perfect for you?”

Melt my heart, kid. Or, on the other hand, I’m actually really worried about your psychological issues.

In any case, after assurances that Santa would not forget him and that of course Santa would know exactly what to give him, Liam went on his way, half-convinced that there would be something waiting for him on Christmas morning. Of course over the coming weeks, I started questioning him to discover his heart’s desire this Christmas. Finally, while drifting off to sleep one night, he talked about how he can’t wait until 2014, when our family ends our #NothingNew Resolution so that he can save up for the Marvel SuperHeroes LEGO sets.

Ah hah! Got it. LEGO. I can do that. I mean….Santa can do that.

The next day, a good three weeks before Christmas, I picked up a LEGO Marvel set for Liam and the LEGO Minecraft set Jack had already asked Santa for (for those of you following our #NothingNew project, I’m going to say that it doesn’t apply to gifts from Santa…so don’t be a Scrooge!). I went home, wrapped them, hid them in my closet, and sat back in awe at how prepared I was this year.

And that was the first mistake. Of many. And so begins the utter and complete gong show that was Operation Santa 2013. Sit back, read along, and pat yourself on the back for not being as screwed up as I am. You’re welcome.

Operation Santa // Lessons Learned

Mistake # 1: Not getting a firm commitment.

Fast forward to five days before Christmas and it’s time for our official “photo with Santa”. Liam has the idea to visit LEGO.com so that he can find the exact Marvel set he wants Santa to bring him.

Mistake # 2: Don’t visit Santa AFTER you’ve already bought the Santa present.

Seeing no way out, I set him up on the website and he starts perusing. At the announcement that he found one he reeeealllly wants, I look over, hoping beyond hope that it happens to be the same set that’s wrapped and sitting in my closet. Sadly, it’s not. That would be too simple.

While feigning interest in Liam’s detailed account of the set’s special features, I scan the details and notice there’s no price listed. In fact, the set he has picked is labeled as “retired”.

Mistake # 3: Letting your kids surf the comprehensive LEGO website in search for their Christmas gift.

“Oh Liam, that set is no longer being made. You’ll have to pick another one,” I casually say, as I internally start visualizing myself scouring eBay for some over-priced retired LEGO set five days before Christmas.

With an “oh silly mother” sigh, Liam innocently replies with, “Oh that doesn’t matter Mom. Santa’s Elves can make anything!”

Mistake # 4: Letting your kids believe that Santa’s Elves make all the presents.


I nervously laugh in that “oh yeah! Silly mom…” kinda way while I flip to my phone and actually start searching eBay for the retired set five days before Christmas. Sure enough, it’s well over three times the original price.

I deserve this.

While I pretend to be hyper-interested in LEGO, I start going through the site with Liam in hopes that he’ll be distracted with another set; preferably one that’s still available for purchase. He eventually does find one (yes!) and decides this is the one he will ask Santa for. Perfect! Phew. That was close.

So I thought.

Mistake # 5: Counting your Christmas chickens before they hatch.

After a trip to the barbershop, the boys were ready to see Santa. I have a personal rule that we don’t go within a 1-mile radius of our local mall from December 15 onward because it’s that ridiculous but here we go, breaking my rule. Sure enough, there is no parking to be had. It’s Silicon Valley, five days before Christmas and people are spend, spend, spending. I finally cave and reluctantly pay the $8 to valet, avoiding another 20+ minutes of circling the parking lot while stalking people to their cars.

Once inside, we stroll up to the Santa display and the boys suddenly stop.

In a horrified whisper, Jack calls it:

“Guys! That is not the real Santa!”

I look up and sure enough, after three consecutive years of visiting the same amazing (and convincing) Santa, it is clearly his day off and quasi-Santa has taken over.

Thinking quickly, I respond with, “Hmmm…I guess you boys were right this morning when you wondered if Santa would still be at the mall or if he’d be too busy getting ready for Christmas! Looks like he’s already gone to the North Pole and is hard at work. He must have sent this Santa as a helper!”

Like a polished compulsive liar, the web of lies continues to grow. I’m a horrible person.

Mistake # 6: Letting your kids believe that the mall Santa is the real Santa.


The boys shake their head in disgust and tell me they don’t want to have a photo with this impostor. Trying not to laugh at the irony of it all, I told them to pose and let me at least take a silly iPhone photo.

We then headed over to the LEGO store, where I plan to secretly check for the set Liam has decided on. Unfortunately, they are no longer carrying it so I’m back to the internet while the boys drool over all the shiny new LEGO (bringing new meaning to the “like a kid in a candy store” adage). Hiding in the corner as I try to avoid the Christmas mayhem all around me, I start searching Amazon for the set and find good news; it’s available and if I buy it today, is guaranteed to arrive on Christmas Eve! Proud of my timely resourcefulness, I click the “Buy Now” button, knowing I can always return the other set that’s sitting in my closet.

While my phone displays that little spinning ball and the world wide web is literally processing the order, Liam walks up to me and excitedly says:

“Mom! Mom! I found it! I found the perfect present for Santa to bring me!! I found it!!”

No, I couldn’t even make this up if I tried.

Mistake # 7: Not leaving the LEGO store before submitting your online LEGO order.

Sure enough, it’s not the one he found earlier while surfing the LEGO site. And it is not the set I bought just 1.2 seconds ago.

Displaying anything other than my actual feelings (i.e. “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!), I feign excitement while Liam explains all the reasons this set is (now) the coolest. Before I can say “get me a glass of wine before I go postal”, Jack then comes up to us, cheeks all flushed and his voice nearly cracking, “Mom! Mom! Forget LEGO Minecraft! I found something WAY more awesome! I need to go see Santa! I need to tell him what I really want!”

Yes, the same LEGO Minecraft that’s sitting in my closet. Wrapped and ready in that way that only Pinterest-Super-Moms seem to pull off.

Mistake # 8: Letting your kids believe that Santa is some sort of on-demand vending machine that brings you anything you ask for.

Suddenly Liam pipes in with “Yeah Mom! We have to go see the fake Santa! Now I can tell him what I really want!”

If subjecting ourselves to the long line of Santa visitors means getting myself out of this store, with all its taunting LEGO sets reminding me just how much money and time I’ve spent on useless LEGO purchases in the last 3 weeks, then yes please.

The Master Plan Continues

As we walk back to Santa, I come up with a master plan. More importantly, I come up with a plan that doesn’t involve me coming back to this god-forsaken mall before Christmas and having to fork over another $10 for elitist valet parking. Telling the boys to wait patiently in the Santa line while I go “get something from the car”, I all but sprint to the LEGO store halfway across the mall, madly buy the two sets the boys are just about to tell Santa they would like for Christmas, book it to the valet booth, slam the LEGO sets, my valet ticket, and five bucks down on the desk and ask the young guy to “please put these in my trunk in the next ten minutes”! He says sure, no problem! I am now very proud of myself for being smart enough to use the valet.

I sprint back to Santa, just in time to see the boys exiting the Santa chair and their photo up on the elf worker’s computer screen. Just as she looks around to find these orphan kids’ parents, I step in and point to the shot on screen, “Yep! Perfect! Package D please.”

I’ve got this! I’m awesome.

Mistake # 9: Don’t be so full of yourself.

After a quick trip around the mall (I did tell the valet guy he had 10 minutes), the boys and I start back for the car. I am sweaty from sprinting like a crazy woman through the crowds of shoppers, topped off by a really difficult Just Dance dance-off with Liam at the Microsoft store (which was all kinds of awesome…depending on your definition of “awesome” of course). I am tired and seriously done with this whole “Santa” thing but pulling off the whole shenanigan without having to come back to the mall or pay exorbitant expedited shipping fees seems to make it all worthwhile.

I slip the valet guy my ticket and they bring our car around. As I open the trunk to make sure the boys toys are there, I suddenly hear shrieking from the backseat and I see no presents in the trunk.

“MOM! MOM! Look! We JUST asked Santa for these and they’re already here!”

With eyes wide, and totally bewildered, we all just stand there, staring at each other. Silence.

They keep staring at me, waiting for some kind of explanation and all I can do is hang my head in shame. Why didn’t I check the car first? Why didn’t I make it crystal clear to the valet guy that the presents needed to be HIDDEN? Why did I tip him five dollars?! WHY? WHY? WHY?

I muster up the courage to speak, “Wow….well…I’m not sure what to do here, boys….just give them to me for now and get in your seats please.”

The onlookers, all waiting for their cars to be pulled around, look on in that “I’m so sorry for you” sort of way as I rack my brain for a solution. My web of lies is unraveling and I can’t come up with anything!

As we pull away, the boys continue to voice their absolute wonder at how this could have happened. Finally, I decide it’s time to come clean…sort of.

“Okay, okay! It was me! I bought those sets. I ran to the LEGO store and bought them while you were in line for Santa. Then I ran to the valet and asked the guy to put them in the trunk. But the doofus put them in your booster seats! UUUGGH!”

Before they could get to wondering why I was hijacking Santa’s presents for them, the perfect lie came to me:

“Dad and I really wanted to get you guys something for Christmas. We’ve been so proud of you guys for your great attitudes during this year of buying nothing new and we wanted to get you something really special. So I bought the sets because I knew you really wanted them and Santa always knows what you really want — so I knew that if we bought them, Santa would bring you something else that would be perfect for you!”

The boys thought on it for a few seconds, both flattered that we were breaking our strict “Nothing New” policy for them and also a bit confused that we would lift Santa’s present ideas. My filter was now long gone and I started lamenting over the valet guy’s mistake, “UUUUUGGGH! I’m SO mad! I know I don’t sound angry but I really AM!”

With empathy for my clear frustration, Liam responds with “wow, thanks Mom…” quickly followed by a worried, “you should really take them back though. What if Santa gets us the same thing?” Which then prompts my quick-thinking Jack with, “yeah Mom! Take them back! Then Santa will bring them for us and you and Dad can get us something else!”

Thankfully, I’m already driving so they can’t see my eyes grow wide in disbelief that I’m about to pull this off…again. Take them back? Yes, of course! I will “take them back”! And then Santa can bring them for you! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?!

I try not to laugh at the boys’ fabulous idea. A plan better than even this newly compulsive liar was able to come up with. Never mind that the boys have managed to innocently squeeze another present out of us. Realizing that this will likely be my last year as Santa, I am now officially an Operation Santa veteran (fully deserving of an honorable discharge!).


This is what Americans would call a “janky” Santa.

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I pray you will experience the true meaning of the Season (that would be Jesus, not LEGO!) in a new and fresh way.

Domestically Yours,
Natasha Kay
{aka Santa Claus #957649234011234}

6 thoughts on “Operation Santa 2013: A Major Santastrophe

  1. Mom says:

    I cannot stop laughing! This is so refreshingly funny and honestly could happen to anyone, thanks for opening up and sharing. Love you!

  2. zenaritten says:

    Nothing beats our mum’s “Santa’s not real” story… she asked for a toy too expensive and Grampa had to tell her the truth. so sad…

    • Natasha (Domestica) says:

      How awful! I just tell the boys that Santa doesn’t bring anything too expensive because it wouldn’t be fair to all the other kids. Otherwise, the boys would be asking for iPods and iPhones. Ridiculous.

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