My kid doesn’t want anything for Christmas

No, really, I’m serious

What do you get for a kid who says she doesn’t want anything for Christmas?

This is the dilemma I face every year. The leftover turkey gets put into the fridge, the first Christmas special DVD is on, and the conversation inevitably turns to what might be under the tree on Christmas morning.

“I don’t really want anything,” my daughter says every year.

It’s always a little shocking because it’s Christmas. It’s the rare opportunity for a kid to let loose with a litany of “I wants” and “I need thats.”

It’s actually not a bad thing when that happens. Sometimes parents need a little guidance when it comes to Christmas shopping. And Santa will need his list, of course. So when I hear “I don’t really want anything,” it makes things more difficult.

It’s not that she doesn’t love this time of year – because she does. She seems to have inherited my obsession with the holiday season. On Thanksgiving night we walk right up to the border of Christmas and cross over by playing a version of “Jingle Bells” performed by a Mongolian Tuvan throat singer. It’s an odd tradition my daughter and I have developed – my wife loathes it, which makes it even more odd and funny – but it’s what we do. Every night from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve is filled with half-hour doses of animated holiday cheer, Christmas music and cocoa. It’s like Santa Claus threw up tinsel and evergreen in our house. It’s kind of awesome.

And then I hit the Christmas shopping list wall. When I get the “I don’t really want anything,” response I do one of two things: I start using my Daddy powers of deduction in which I ferret out what she really wants, or I wait.

I have learned one thing in the nine Christmases since she was born – she may start off not wanting much, but as we get closer to the big day she reverts a little more to the natural state of all kids. In other words, there may be one or two things that’d be nice to see under the tree. Maybe a new Nintendo DSI, maybe a board game. If I wait long enough the hints will come, but it does take a little coercion.

“Seriously, what do you want?” I ask before heading out on a shopping trip.

“Daddy, I don’t need anything,” she always says. “We have our family and we’re happy.”

That’s no joke. Someone took my kid and replaced her with a short 30-year-old. She just gets the meaning of the season, whereas I get it, but I also revel in the anticipation of Christmas morning presents and egg nog and Rankin/Bass productions. Maybe just a little more than a nine-year-old.

Someone taught the kid well. I blame my wife.

Bill Burke has a broad face and a round little belly that shakes, when he laughs, like a bowl full of jelly. He lives in southern N.H. with his wife and daughter, who will likely get presents on Christmas morning.

Categories: Dad on Board