Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (But Don’t Bother Him, He’s Busy)

December 22, 2010

By Katie Hill

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus … except he’s too darn busy to wrap your presents.

After perusing the results of MP&F’s inaugural holiday survey, I was shocked that 27 percent of Tennesseans say they do not receive wrapped presents from Santa Claus. In fact, in the three weeks since I learned about the scads of children in Tennessee who receive bare presents from Santa, I still haven’t been able to wrap my mind around this bizarre tradition.

So, like any good PR professional, I threw myself into research. I e-mailed college friends who live all over the country, and they agreed that Santa definitely wraps his presents. (As one recently married friend pointed out, “I bet Mrs. Claus does 99 percent of the wrapping.”)

Suspecting that this was one of those inexplicable Southern traditions, I beseeched a colleague from Alabama, “Why wouldn’t Santa wrap his presents?” She looked at me, startled, “Because he’s too busy to wrap everyone’s presents!” Another native Alabamian co-worker argued a similar point in a blog post earlier today, which I highly encourage you to read if you’d like to understand this curious phenomenon.

I’m a natural-born cynic; but the idea of Santa as a multitasking, ADD-ridden, harried businessman clutching three BlackBerries seems a tad post-modernly cynical even to me. And how do you begin to explain to your kids that Santa’s just too busy to be bothered wrapping their presents? (I mean, the guy’s got a work force of thousands of elves.)

You have to understand that in my family, presents from Santa not only arrived wrapped, but were clad in the most extravagant of decorations – silver, gold, green, red, tissue, satin, raffia, all of the above – and always swathed in paper that was nowhere to be found in our house. Every Christmas, my little brother and I painstakingly compared the wrapping on Santa’s presents to that of non-Santa presents, and it never matched up. Santa was magic.

Being the dutiful older daughter, I was too chicken to go hunting for Santa’s wrapping paper in my mother’s closet, so I delegated that task to my fearless younger brother while I served as lookout at the top of the stairs. To this day, neither of us has ever figured out where Santa’s wrapping paper lived in our house, and my mother insists she has no idea either. On top of that, Santa’s gift tags were always unfamiliar and mysterious-looking, and his scribble bore no resemblance to either my mother’s or father’s handwriting. Santa was magic.

So that’s why I know, with my whole heart, that Santa’s presents always come wrapped. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule – like bicycles – but Santa wraps his presents because he cares, because it’s the thought that counts, because he’s got an eye for beauty. And because Santa is magic.


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