Did you know Christmas is a Strategy Game?

xmas list

Christmas is just around the corner.  My wife and I have a relatively new tradition at our house.  And our girls,   14 & 11, have surprisingly embraced it.  We’ve decided that the Wise Men brought Jesus 3 gifts thus each person–Mom and Dad included– will each receive only three gifts.  Now that the girls are older, Christmas is no longer about the sprawling packages that flow out from under the tree to every corner of the living room, and the frenetic weeks spent trying to find “stuff” to get everyone.

The girls still prepare their Christmas lists which include many items, but we now pick three from the list. Christmas is a LOT less stressful.  At least for us.  But a couple nights ago, we overheard the girls discussing their lists….

Daughter #1: “You can’t put the three things you want most at the top of the list — they’ll see right through that.  You have to be smart.  Put something you really want in the middle somewhere, just make the letters darker so it stands out a bit.”

Daughter #2: “You’re being dumb.  It’s a list.  You put things in order of importance. 1-2-3.”

Daughter #1: “Oh really?  Do you really think that?  You’re telling me Jesus actually  wanted  Frankincense and Myrrh?  So you think Jesus just put “Gold” up at the very top of his list?  Really?”

Daughter #2: ” You’re being retarded. Jesus didn’t even make a list.  He was an infant!  Wait, he wan’t even born yet!”

Daughter #1: “Whatever.  Fine.  Just go ahead and put “cell phone” at the top of your list and see what happens.  I hope you like socks.”

Daughter #2: [thinking hard…] “So maybe I should move that to, like, #4 or #5 or something…….?”

Daughter #1: [smugly] “Don’t ask me — I’m ‘retarded’, remember?  Good Luck**.”

[**When she said ‘Good Luck’ it sounded EXACTLY like the abductor / terrorist from the movie “Taken” with Liam Nelson]

So, my daughters have apparently turned Christmas into a game of strategy.  Here we thought we would have a nice tie back to the original meaning and purpose of Christmas with the “Three-Wise-Men-Three-Gifts” thing, and they’re trying to game the system.  Tweenagers.  Well, since they attend Catholic school at least they knew what the Three Wise Men brought Jesus, which is more than I can say for most kids….

From what I can tell, here is the Daughter #1 strategy:  Pepper Mom and Dad with multiple versions (aka revisions or updates) to the list such that every item is ranked differently on each version in the hopes that the ensuing frustration and confusion will result in a total collapse of the system, and a return to the “getting everything for Christmas” scenario.

The Daughter #2 strategy can be dubbed the “martyr” or possibly the “diversion” approach.  She has filled her list with trivial items (popcorn, new pencils for school etc.) while providing a disclaimer stating that additional (i.e. better items not on the list) could be provided if we think she is “deserving” while conveniently providing some helpful examples of what “deserving” gifts might be.  You know, just in case.

My strategy might just be gift cards.  Because nothing says you’re worth more than $25,  but not quite $50, like a $40 gift card.

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9 Responses to Did you know Christmas is a Strategy Game?

  1. Van-a-gram says:

    Reminded me of this:

    Dear Santa,
    How are you? How is Mrs. Claus? I hope everyone, from the
    reindeer to the elves, is fine. I have been a very good boy this year. I would like an X-Box 360 with Call of Duty IV and an iPhone 4 for Christmas. I hope you remember that come Christmas Day.
    Merry Christmas,
    Timmy Jones
    * *

    Dear Timmy,
    Thank you for you letter. Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and the elves are all fine and thank you for asking about them. Santa is a little worried all the time you spend playing video games and texting. Santa wouldn’t want you to get fat. Since you have indeed been a good boy, I think I’ll bring you something you can go outside and play with.*
    Merry Christmas,*
    Santa Claus***
    * *
    Mr. Claus,
    Seeing that I have fulfilled the “naughty vs. Nice” contract,
    set by you I might add, I feel confident that you can see your way clear to granting me what I have asked for. I certainly wouldn’t want to turn this joyous season into one of litigation. Also, don’t you think that a jibe at my weight coming from an overweight man who goes out once a year is a bit trite?
    Tim Jones
    * *

    Mr. Jones,
    While I have acknowledged you have met the “nice” criteria,
    need I remind you that your Christmas list is a request and in no way is it a guarantee of services provided. Should you wish to pursue legal action, well that is your right. Please know, however, that my attorney’s have been on retainer ever since the Burgermeister Meisterburger incident and will be more than happy to take you on in open court. Additionally, the exercise I alluded to will not only improve your health, but also improve your social
    skills and potentially help clear up a complexion that looks like the
    bottom of the Burger King fry bin most days.
    Very Truly Yours,
    S Claus
    * *

    Now look here Fat Man,
    I told you what I want and I expect you to bring it. I was
    attempting to be polite about this but you brought my looks and my friends into this. Now you just be disrespecting me. I’m about to tweet my boys and we’re gonna be waiting for your fat ass and I’m taking my game console, my game, my phone, and whatever else I want. WHAT EVER I WANT, MAN!
    * *

    Listen Pizza Face,
    Seriously??? You think a dude that breaks into every house in the world on one night and never gets caught sweats a skinny G-banger wannabe? “He sees you when you’re sleeping; He knows when you’re awake”. Sound familiar, genius? You know what kind of resources I have at my disposal. I got your shit wired, Jack. I go all around the world and see ways to hurt people that if I described them right now, you’d throw up your Totino’s pizza roll all over the carpet of your mom’s basement. You’re not getting what you
    asked for, but I’m still stopping by your crib to stomp a mud hole in
    you’re ass and then walk it dry. Chew on that, Petunia.
    S Clizzy
    * *

    Dear Santa,
    Bring me whatever you see fit. I’ll appreciate anything.
    * *

    That’s what I thought you little bastard.

  2. JenR says:

    That’s great! We have limited it to four gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. It’s worked out well for us.

  3. Uke says:

    The mass murderer kinda stole your thunder, Van, but this thread was still great.

  4. RJ says:

    Van, thanks for the laughs, I needed them.

  5. A Guy says:

    very funny post

  6. Testa Sterone says:

    Call me thoughtless, narrow minded, cheap, whatever, but I give my wife and all my kids and grandkids money for Christmas and Birth Days. They get to buy what they want and can wait for the sales after Christmas where the money will go a little farther and I don’t have to worry about whether they got something they wanted or not, whether it fits or not, whether there’s a store in town where they live so they can exchange it, whether I included the gift certificate in the package, or whether I have to pay a fortune to mail a Christmas gift box to my out-of-state and out-of-town kin!!! An added bonus is that if they don’t want to buy anything with it they can save it. It’s really quite versatile and it saves me from having to deal with the mad shoppers this time of year and I don’t get any complaints that what they got wasn’t what they wanted!!! Having that issue settled, I can then buy them, especially the wife, something nice and thoughtful anytime I want without worrying about what time of year it is. It’s called a surprise!

  7. notamobster says:

    Testa – Very nice justification of what many lazy people do at Christmas time. Bwahahahaha!!! I’m just messing with you.

    I ain’t doing damnit for my kids this year. We’re broke, so we’re gonna celebrate the true purpose for Christmas. 🙂

    The brokeness is not the reason why we aren’t buying big gifts this year. We decided, long before I accepted Jesus (last week) that this year we would focus on the family and the reason for the Holy day. We’re getting them some small things and spending the day together.

  8. Roxy says:

    We have 4 kids and could never afford much. And man did they eat alot back then!! So I always planned 4 presents. It always tended to be something to read, something to read, yeah, you get idea… I hope you like books. Now we’re on to grandkids! I hope they like to read!…..
    Notamobster! Max and I are both delighted by your recent acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord. May this be your best and greatest Christmas Ever!

  9. fubar says:


    i love this thread, thanks for the lol.

    although we are evil, rich businessowners (sarc) I give mostly homemade gifts, especially to friends and family members; seeds that I have saved from good producing plants, sewing projects, baked goods, home-canned goods, FUDGE!
    we make our own cards too, which are a gift themselves.