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Father Christmas 2016

Each year the guys on my block take turns dressing up as Father Christmas and sit out on a sled in the median on our street asking kids who line up each night between 6:30 and 8 chatting about their hopes and dreams for Christmas morning. It’s a tradition that goes back to the 30’s and one that allows for me to take the pulse of the in toys for the season.

Here’s my unofficial survey of what’s popular in 2016.

Pokemon cards are back! Several kids asked for specific decks of this old school game which is experiencing a comeback no doubt due to their older siblings who are playing it again on their phones. Pikachu stuffed dolls and other characters from the game were a close runner up. Props to the kid that insisted (much to the frustration of his mother) on posing for his Santa photo with his poke-ball.

Playstation 4 beats out the XBox. There was also one mention of a Nintendo DS.

iPhones were mentioned a few times with one girl asking specifically for the iPhone 7. One kid also asked for a GoPro. No mention of any Android devices or Apple Watches.

One kid asked for a Nerf Gun and the parent’s and I did a double-take when we heard his younger sister say she wanted a, “shotgun” but she later clarified that it was a ShurikenBest to stay clear of that house on Christmas morning.

There were several wishes for a dog and one boy that wanted a swimming frog while his sister hoped for “birds in a cage” but the prize for the best wish goes to the little girl who is wishing for a flying turtle.  The father and I exchanged a panicked look and I said something about “seeing what I could do” – maybe her dad can rig up a drone or something, he’s got his work cut out for him.

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Christmas Eve 2014

Thompson Avenue was its usual carnival of lights this year as the neighborhood lit itself up and residents prepared to greet the thousands of people that came to walk our street, see the lighting displays, and of course visit with Santa.

Each December, all of the dudes on the block volunteer to play Santa Claus for an evening or two between December 6th and 23rd. It’s always fun to hear what the little ones want for Christmas. Hightlights this year were:

  • the boy who wanted a tuba (I made a deal with him to play it when his parents are asleep in the morning)
  • the girl who, amidst a long list of video games wanted a book of poetry
  • the little girl who whispered to me before she left, “Why do people still fight wars?”

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Christmas Tree Lane #hyperlapse

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Playing Father Christmas

Tonight I had the rare privilege of keeping the dream alive for some 70 kids who came to our street to visit with Santa. Our street gets totally decked out in lights for the month (we even got covered in the SF Chronicle) and to cap things off, we have a little Santa’s workshop thing going on the median right in front of my house.

Santa duty is on a volunteer basis and, wanting to make a good impression with my neighbors, I jumped in with both feet and signed myself up for an evening. Izumi told the kids I had to step out for a few hours to take care of something and I ducked into the garage to change into the suit which the fellow from the night before brought over for me earlier in the day. The beard was kind of funky smelling so I spritzed it with some cologne, threw on an extra sweater for warmth and then threw open the garage door for my 6:30 appearance.

I had some quick explaining to do to the startled kids that wondered why Santa was coming out of a garage to which I said that it’s the best place for the sled b/c parking is tough in this town. I settled into the chair that had been set out for me and then realized that, (a) the cologne smell was going to make me woozy, (b) I couldn’t see a thing b/c of the spotlight on me and the condensation on my glasses, and (c) I was going to sweat up a storm with all this gear on because the wig and hat were actually quite warm.

No matter, my elves, which were older kids from the neighborhood, moved things along nicely and whispered each child’s name into my ear before they approached. It was great to see their eyes when I would say to them, “Jose! How good to see you again! Now, tell me young man, you have been good haven’t you?” In one glance I could tell if they were good or bad because they were either happy to see me or looked at their toes in guilt. A few words of advice later (“be sure to make your bed each morning, pick up after yourself, and eat all your veggies”) and then I would get an education on the state of the toy market.

Most popular request? Bikes followed by Gameboys.

Then there was the handwritten note slipped to me by one boy when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. It was a simple boy’s request for some things to make his life better:

  • Juice
  • Stuffed Cat & Dog
  • Clock
  • Garbage Can for Room
  • Telephone
  • Rescue Hero Hyper Jet
  • Green Long Hair for Daddy
  • 100 Quarters ($25)

Some things seem so mundane, like a shopping list, then there’s the Rescue Hero, an indulgence, and the “Green Long Hair for Daddy” – I would love to know the full story behind that one but alas I didn’t have that much time.

The other note slipped my way was from a father who had scrawled on the back of an envelope:

Santa,
Please mention to Jonathan to be sure to take the rubber snake off our garage roof so it doesn’t frighten Prancer.

When I discussed this with Jonathan, he almost lost his cap! He was just beside himself and solemnly promised to tell his father about Prancer’s ophiciophobia.

Good fun, it was totally worth it.