You know what’s awesome about having a two year old? Their Christmas wish list is a piece of cake. “Can Santa bring me a can of Play-Doh?” Annie asked me yesterday. “Pwease?” Since a can of Play-Doh costs around a buck fifty I told her he could, and Annie was thrilled. Unfortunately, it won’t always be this easy. I’m well aware that as kids grow older their wish list gets more expensive and far less practical (exhibit A: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”). As much as I have no desire to blow the bank on future Christmases, it’s the prospect of Annie asking for impractical gifts that scares me the most because, when I was a kid, I was the king of impractical gifts.

opening a present
Annie opening a gift last year

When I was around eight or nine I somehow got it in my mind that it would be totally tubular (yes, that’s how I talked in the Eighties) if Santa brought me a junk car to put in our backyard. There was a junk yard full of hundreds of rusting, broken down cars on the way to our local airport, and the sight had made an impression on me.

“Why exactly do you want this?” my  befuddled parents asked.

Only because I could pretend to drive it at top speeds, make the interior my super secret hangout, and be the only nine year old at school who could brag about having his very own car (never mind that it no longer ran and never would again).

Sadly, Santa never brought me an awesome 1974 Impala (or similar model) and I threw a pouting fit on Christmas morning. I should have known I was out of luck when, somewhere in mid December, I overheard my Mom tell my Dad,“No way! He’d need a tetanus shot every week if he played around in one of those things!”

My next Christmas dream was, if not as dangerous, a whole lot harder to acquire – a personalized letter from San Francisco Giants’ star first baseman Will Clark. I have no idea how I ever imagined Santa (or my parents) could ever get such a letter, but it was atop my Christmas list nonetheless. Amazingly, on Christmas morning, I ran into the family room to find under our tree… A PERSONALIZED LETTER FROM WILL “THE THRILL” HIMSELF!!!!!

I ripped it open and read the message over and over:

Merry Christmas, Mike.

Work hard in school and keep playing ball!

Your pal,
Will Clark

I was over the moon until it dawned on me that Will’s handwriting looked an awful lot like my Dad’s. Suddenly suspicious, I examined the envelope the letter came in. At first glance it looked to be copacetic, but upon closer examination I realized the “post mark” had been drawn on in ball point pen!

I confronted my Dad and he quickly admitted his dastardly scheme. The weird thing is, I was less annoyed by the fake letter than the fact he didn’t think ahead enough to drop it in the mail a few days earlier.

Looking back now that I’m a father myself, I can’t believe the position I put my parents in. Of course they couldn’t buy me a junk car. And a letter from Will Clark? How were they ever supposed to pull that off? Just thinking about the epically impractical gifts Annie is going to ask for makes me shiver. A unicorn for the backyard? Dinner and a movie with Justin Bieber? Ugh. I do not look forward that. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy watching my sweet two-year-old unwrap a can of Play-Doh and beam as if it were a a junk car with a personalized letter from Will Clark on the dashboard.