Does Santa have a budget?
Christmas is quickly upon us. I’ve already seen stores packed with toys and decorations. If you haven’t done so, it’s a good time to make your holiday budget and lists. You can do both with FitFin.
I’ve got three kids who are getting older, as they tend to do. And with older kids comes expensive toys. Two years ago was the first Christmas where we started to see this with our then-eight year-old son. Here is how the conversation went down:
Me: What do you want for Christmas?
Son: An iPad Mini.
Son: And a Wii U. And a full-size robot.
I was floored. And frankly a little scared! What happened to simpler, less expensive gifts, like action figures and footballs? I told him that we couldn’t afford all of those things.
Son: Santa Claus can make them.
Uh . . . what was I to say to that????
I’m actually kind of proud of my response because I was able to explain the situation and educate him a little bit about the world. After a little Joe Montana-like scrambling, I told him that Santa has to operate from a budget, just like all of us. He told me that Santa is magic, to which I agreed. But then I got historical on him. I said that when Santa got started in the business of giving toys to good girls and boys several hundred years ago, he was great at making the toys of the day, like wooden horses, spinning tops, etc.
Then when the toys became more complex, Santa and the elves didn’t have the technical expertise to build things like iPads, X-boxes, and computers. As a result, Santa had to form a partnership with Apple, Microsoft, and the like. I admitted that I didn’t know the details of their agreements, but I assumed that companies like Apple didn’t give away those products to Santa. I explained that because there are so many children in the world, if Apple gave Santa an iPad for every kid, they’d go out of business.
I asked him if he understood. He said yes, but then brought up the magic angle again. He didn’t understand why Santa couldn’t just magically make an iPad. This is where I had to get creative. I went back to the wooden horse example. I said that a couple hundred years ago, there weren’t things like patents, or at least not like there are today (Note: he knew what a patent was because he’d been watching Shark Tank with me for a while). I continued to say that nowadays, a company like Apple might take issue with someone magically creating their innovative, complex product and giving it away for free, even if that person was Santa Claus. I used the iPad example again and said that if Santa gave every child an iPad in the world for free, there would no longer be a market for Apple to sell them, essentially putting Apple out of business. For that reason, Apple would never let that happen. And we can all imagine that Apple has powerful lawyers.
Side note: Didn’t Santa represent himself on Miracle On 34th Street?
Regardless, I circled back to the agreement between Apple and Santa Claus. I said that Apple probably gives Santa a generous break on the cost of an iPad since he needs massive quantities. That said, in order for Apple to continue to make a profit and stay in business, they have to charge Santa something. They can’t just give him a million iPads for nothing. And for that reason, Santa has to budget, just like Mommy and Daddy.
The story, however make-believe, helped him realize that there are no unlimited resources. I said that Santa has probably had to change the way he does business over the years now that toys are more complex than a spinning top.
I ended our discussion by telling my son that it was up to him to decide on what to ask Santa for Christmas. If he wanted to ask for all three items, that was fine, as long as he felt good about it. (I may have thrown in something about not being selfish, but don’t remember for sure.) I did tell him not to expect to get all three gifts. He ended up only asking for the iPad Mini. Of course this story would have had a much happier ending had he wanted a football to begin with, but that seems to no longer be the world we live in. The good news is that the iPad sort of turned into a family gift that gets used often by all three kids (and Mom and Dad on occasion).
I don’t know if this story will work with your kids or not, but hopefully there are a few nuggets in there that you can use if you have to have a similar conversation.