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December 22, 2008

Santa, can I sit on your lap?

December 22. Day 175.

I haven't sat on Santa's lap in about two decades, maybe more, but as The Daily Asker, I can't really conceive of a holiday season where I don't talk with the big guy.

"Are you up for an adventure?" I asked my friend M this afternoon, right before we met up for coffee. He's a filmmaker who lives in LA, and he came back to San Diego for the holidays.


He met me at my car and we changed course from Peet's Coffee to the UTC Mall. Destination: Santa's Pavillion.

On the drive over, I thought about what I'd ask Santa for this year. My thoughts started veering toward the kinds of things that are hard to wrap up and put under the tree -- good health for my mom, a job for my sister, job security for my dad, a PhD in the spring, my voice back. On the material side, a bunch of books I like, some quality coffee or tea.

We parked at Macy's and walked through the menswear section, where it appeared a stampede of ravenous girlfriends had made their way. Clothes were falling off tables, cashmere sweaters lay limp -- picked through like yesterday's seafood special.

"This is why I don't like malls," M said. "I did all my Christmas shopping this year online."

Once inside the mall, we walked past a small booth with what looked like an "upscale contemporary" living room inside. Did Santa get a makeover? Where were the tinsel and elves?!! But I was mistaken -- it was empty, a showroom.

And then, we spotted it. The pavillion. The red and green foil. His chair. The promotional photo packages. We took a place in line - somehow I had forgotten about the line, or didn't think I'd actually force a baby to wait to see his first Santa. But so it was.

The kid in front of us was about 5 and squirming in his father's arms.

"Did you know children find beards universally terrifying?" M informed me.

As we waited, we started talking to a grandmother waiting for her daughter and her infant to see Santa. She asked us if we have kids.

"No. Maybe next year," I replied, an inside joke with M since we looked like a happy young couple, but I'm with Mr. A, and M is currently unattached (and gay).

Then, the granny advised us one kid is best, none is better.

"A pregnant woman walked into my deli yesterday and her credit card was declined," Granny said, to illustrate. "She apologized and said it must be the Target purchases.

"Did you buy furniture for the nursery?" Granny asked, making conversation.

"No. $2,0000 in toys for my kids. Already have five. One more one the way," the woman replied.

Our turn was next. We wished her happy holidays and approached Santa. M went in first and sat on his lap.

"For Christmas this year, I'd like affordable health insurance."

"So would I," the jolly guy chuckled.

My turn. I took a seat, leaned in and asked.

"Ho Ho Ho! I'll see what I can do!" he promised.

Gained: hope my Christmas wish will come true.
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