One hundred years ago, 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun asking if there really was a Santa Claus. The editorial that ran in response reassured little Virginia that indeed there was a Santa as long as she believed in his existence.
Childhood innocence and faith in things we do not necessarily see but believe in were what made our lives tolerable, the editorial said. It closed by saying that even in 10,000 years, Santa Claus would still be making children everywhere happy. Yet a mere century later, it looks like Santa may have a challenge on his hands. This holiday season, a nationwide toy retailer has introduced a new twist: the Santa scanner. A child runs a scanning gun across the bar codes of the toys he or she wants and an instant Christmas list is ready.
Will this be death to the tradition of writing a letter to St. Nick, mailing it to his North Pole address and waiting for the surprise Christmas morning? What about sitting on Santa's lap and whispering your wishes in his ear? What of the innocence of believing that Santa brought those gifts and not Mom and Dad? MAURA E. MONTELLANO spoke with parents about the scanners.
I have an 8-year-old son and I would not register him. I think it negates the parents' involvement in what the kids should get. The kids would be thinking that because they registered for those gifts, they would be getting them. It gives them false hope. Right now, for example, my son is at the age where he asks if we "help" Santa. If I were to bring him in here and have him register, then he would assume this is what he is getting. Then kids are disappointed and Christmas ends up not being what it should be.
I like the fact that he and I are interracting with the list we put together at home. I help him spell things out, identify things. I can then tell him the things that I don't think are appropriate for him. He knows that since we did this together, the chances of getting the items from his wish list are better.
I want him to have the philosophy of Christmas and enjoy it instead of thinking it's a time when he can create this big fat list of things he wants. I want it to be a family event.
If parents let their kids use the Santa scanner, they should take the list home and review it with their child. Through process of elimination go through what is inappropriate or too expensive.
I think Christmas is not what it used to be. You got what you got and you enjoyed it.
I don't believe in registries. I don't think it's fun for either party. It probably makes it easier for the gift-giver but the element of surprise is taken out. Christmas is supposed to be fun, not efficient.
We're Jewish, but if we did celebrate Christmas, I would say it's a good thing to have children write out their lists. It's good to understand what your kid wants and it would be fun for them. It stimulates children. But if they just come in and pick it off the shelf, that takes away from the spirit of it. Christmas is supposed to be special and fun.
Scanners are great. It really is helpful especially as children get older. If you could just walk into the store and get a printout of what they want, it would take the guesswork out. For families that are spread out and for people who are buying for a lot of kids, this can be very helpful. My daughter-in-law, who lives in Washington, has to give me her list at Thanksgiving because we need time to mail the gifts. It also helps me have some idea of what the child wants. What do I know about Sega Genesis? I came home with the wrong game one time and if I had known of something like the registry, it would have made it easier to get the right thing. It also helps to keep from duplicating gifts. I ended up returning something, a really big item one time, that my grandson's other grandmother had already bought him.
I wrote letters to Santa and my kids did too. But times have changed. Our Christmas is still fun. Family traditions are still a big part of our festivities. That's what's important. What's not fun is having to come back the day after and return things.
West Los Angeles
It gives the child the wrong idea that they need all this, all these toys. It's too much consumerism, buy, buy, buy. It's telling them that they need all this to be happy. I would rather pick out my own gifts for them. If you don't know what the child wants, then talk to the child or the parent. Ask them what types of things they are interested in. Then pick something from that. Or buy a book.
This registry tells the child that the person giving the gift is not connected to them, that they don't know that child well enough to pick a gift for them.
What if the child doesn't get what is on his or her registry list? Is the grandparent going to feel responsible? Christmas ends up being a disappointment rather than being happy with what they did receive.
I wouldn't use the registry simply because I think my daughter would go ballistic picking things out. She is 5 1/2 and sometimes she thinks she wants things that wind up going into the toy box, never coming out again. I buy her a few things she asks for and then something educational, something she wouldn't necessarily pick herself.
This registry takes away from the tradition of writing Santa a letter. As for buying for other children, I have an idea of what they want through their parents. I would rather see the surprise on their faces. I think children have forgotten the meaning of Christmas.