Just before Christmas Eve I ran into Santa again, this time outside a popular mall. “How is it going, Santa?” I asked enthusiastically. “Well, not great, really. You see, I had asked the children to let me know what they wanted through a special Christmas Eve prayer.” Looking confused and very miserable, Santa stopped abruptly. A little nudging and the truth tumbled out. The children no longer want chocolates or cookies or dolls or even toys that Santa had come equipped with! He had sneaked inside their homes for a peek and the mini showrooms loaded with dolls or toys or both in most of the places had amazed him. “Isn’t there anything the parents don’t give their children today?!” a rattled Santa exclaimed. I responded softly “Time.” But Santa was in no mood to listen and grumbled “They won’t settle for anything less than PS – 3 and Bakugan or Barbie bags and things of that sort. I didn’t have a clue about such things and visited the mall to do a check. Now I wonder if I’ll have to go back to North Pole to find out if I can manage enough funds for such expensive things. Or should I leave behind what I’ve got for them from there?” He finished, looking little better at having got a sympathetic listener, but more helpless than what he had seemed when he began. I was tempted to ask Santa if some kind of amnesia had brought on such a rude shock since Christmas kept coming all these years and Santa too kept dropping gifts for the children all through. He seemed to read my mind and said matter-of-factly “The 21st century Santa suddenly took ill. I am from the 1960s and severely out of touch.” Poor old, very, very old Santa. He has no inkling that today’s children have silently bartered the company of their working, time-starved parents with all the goodies they are regularly showered with (which Santa had thought of pleasing the little souls with), that children compete amongst themselves to build their own empires, that they consider it cool to possess the latest from the gift world….that today’s kids are more difficult to please than even the 1960’s adults.
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