Saturday, December 4, 2010

New myths to solve old problems

It's the holiday season, and parents often face a host of holiday-specific dilemmas that can be mitigated with just a little creativity. The following were two solutions posed to me by fellow parents when dealing with two pesky problems that arise between October and December. Though the first is perhaps belated, it is something to bear in mind for next year.

To deal with the surplus of Halloween candy, the mother of one of Fain’s classmates suggested “the candy witch.” The candy witch, I presume, is the self-same witch as she of Hansel and Gretel, and naturally, with the perpetual demolition of her house by the nibbling of plump, pink young children in lederhosen, she is always in need of free or cheap building supplies. Therefore, if young children will stir up a pot of Halloween candy on an unheated stove and say a certain magical spell to summon the candy witch, she will come and take the candy at night while he sleeps and replace it with a toy. The beauty of this is that the toy can be a gently used one because it probably was left behind by one of the juicy little morsels she ate for dinner. (Of course, I don’t recommend that you tell your children that, unless they’re of a particularly gruesome nature.)

Now, how to deal with the pesky question of why some children get Nintendo DSs and mini-limos from Santa at Christmastime while others only get apples and cheap little wind up robots? This is the children’s philosophical equivalent to the problem of an all knowing, benevolent god and the existence of evil. The answer requires a little knowledge of the limitation of elf labor and copyright infringement.

The fat man and his elves have been making wooden toys and wind up robots and plucking oranges and apples from orchards on their world tours for centuries, but elves are not particularly tech-savvy; therefore, while the demand for new fangled toys has increased, the elves capacity to meet this demand has not. Frankly, elves are lost when it comes to anything requiring wiring or computer chips.

Furthermore, some toys are licensed. After the lawsuit against Santa pressed by the lawyers of Howdy Doody back in 1952 when Santa delivered an elf-made (read: unlicensed) Howdy Doody doll to Timmy Jameson of West Palm Beach, Florida, Santa has understandably been reluctant to ask elves to reproduce licensed toys.

Consequently, Santa has to purchase all digital as well as commercially licensed toys at Wal-Mart like everyone else. (Not at Black Friday prices because that’s his busiest time of year. Believe it or not, there are still kids the world over who are content with generic wooden puppets and teddy bears.) As a result, parents whose children want these “ticket item” toys must pay Santa for his trouble, including finder’s fees and delivery. It’s really just cheaper if parents buy the toys themselves and let Santa stick to his fruit delivery service.

Therefore, I am buying the Nintendo DS this year, while Santa will be delivering a bouncy ball, a few wind-up toys, a couple of books, and some fresh fruit just like the old days.

*Note regarding the threatened livelihood of elves: Elves tend to live a very long time, and currently, many are reaching retirement age, so do not fret that the desire of our children for technologically advanced toys will create a recession in Santaland. Elves have been putting money (re: chocolate coins) into their 401Ks for a millennia in most cases before retirement. Besides, their houses are made from gingerbread by the same gnomes that build for the candy witch, so the supplies that make the North Pole tenable for elven-kind are pretty easy and cheap to come by. It’s unlikely they’ll have to worry about a housing bubble bursting up there any time soon.

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A Mirror, A Summer, A Street by Autumn Crisp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.