Posted on 7th December 2011 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues


This story doesn’t really jive with the Black Friday MSM storyline of consumers spending like drunken sailors. Which storyline seems like the truth to you? The top story in my paper today is that Manna on Mainstreet, our local foodbank/soup kitchen is having to move from an 800 sq ft building they have occupied for 30 years to a 5,000 square ft building two blocks away. Now the lines won’t have to extend down the block for soup. This is what is happening in the real world, while bankers and politicians pretend to solve the world’s problems. The truth is out there. You just have to ignore the blizzard of lies.

Santa finds kids giving shorter lists in recession

By MARTHA WAGGONER | AP – 15 hrs ago

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A job for their mom or dad. Money for the heating bill. Food or a place to live. Maybe gloves or boots.

More and more, Santas say the children on their laps are asking for less for themselves — and Santa is promising less as well.

With unemployment stubbornly high, more homes in foreclosure and the economic outlook dim, many children who visit Santa are all too aware of the struggle to make ends meet.

“These children understand the conditions around the home when they ask for stuff,” said Richard Holden, a 69-year-old Santa from Gastonia, N.C. “They understand when there are other children in the family, they need to be cautious or thoughtful of them as well and not ask for 10 to 12 items.”

Cliff Snider, who’s been playing Santa since he was a teenager, agrees.

“I think the parents are saying, ‘It’s an economic thing. Just list two to three things you really want to have,’” he said. “Parents are trying to encourage the children to be thrifty.”

And the 64-year-old Snider does his best to help out. When he gets a big-ticket request, he typically responds: “There’s an awful lot of children asking for that this year. What else do you want?”

At the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, Santas learn lines like, “Wow, that’s a big gift. Is there anything else you might like?”

These days, though, Santas are having to use it less and less.

“I think it’s becoming more popular not to have that long list,” said Tom Valent, dean of the Howard Santa school in Midland, Mich., which gets more than 3,000 letters to Santa a year and just graduated its 75th class. “Families are teaching their children to be as much of a giver as a receiver.”

Starlight Fonseca has been teaching her five children, ages 5 to 14, “that we’re not the only ones who have to cut things back. We’re not the only ones struggling.”

The 31-year-old mother and her husband Jose had been relying on a stipend from the University of Texas law school that Fonseca lost when an illness made it impossible for her to keep her grades up. She’d hoped to graduate in May but was unable to attend school this semester and can’t get student loans due to poor credit.

Fonseca tells her kids that “to make it fair for everyone, Santa has to cut back for everyone. … We paint it in a way that Santa is doing the best he can to make everybody happy at Christmas.”

It’s especially hard for the oldest children.

“They were two little kids who used to be excited about Christmas, and now they know every gift under the tree should have gone to the utility company,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that way, but that’s where we are now.”

Of course, Santas still see some kids like the 9-year-old who pulled out a BlackBerry and showed Snider photos of all the things he wanted. “It cracked me up,” he said.

Holden’s response to a long list is to say something like, “Why don’t you narrow this down just a little bit and choose two or three items you would really like?” Sometimes he’ll even mention prices, and say, “With things like they are, Santa Claus will do what he can to help you get what you like. But we can’t make you any promises.”

Tim Connaghan, who runs the International University for Santa Claus in Riverside, Calif., conducts an annual survey among the 500 Santas he employs. The economy has become such a big issue that Connaghan asked them for advice on how to handle some of the questions kids were asking about unemployed parents or having to move.

“Let’s all hope your dad will find a new job, or you will get into a new home,” is one recommended response.

“Acknowledge the problem, give them a positive response and say, ‘Santa loves you, too. Maybe I could get something special for you,’” said Connaghan. “It’s that quick, usually. But the hope is that when the child leaves, he feels a little better.”

Connaghan recalled the night he and other Santas took some needy children shopping. One boy wanted to buy toilet paper because his mother was taking napkins and paper towels from a fast food restaurant for toilet paper.

“He wanted to buy her real toilet paper — a common, everyday item that we all take for granted,” Connaghan said. “And this child is thinking this is a Christmas gift.”

Holden has had children ask for things like heat at home. He’ll tell the child Santa will do what he can, then try to let the parents know about agencies that might help.

One child returned a year later and “said she wanted to thank Santa for getting her some help when they didn’t have food or a place to stay.” Someone had overheard the conversation with Santa and helped the family.

“There’s more to being a Santa Claus than you think there is,” Holden said. “You don’t just go ‘ho, ho, ho,’ pat them on the back of the head and send them on their way. You get involved with them. … You just make sure they feel loved and they feel special when they leave your lap.”

  1. Oscar Mannheim says:

    Once upon a time, and for a long time at that, Christmas was about the celebration of the birth of a babe in utterly humble circumstances (no toilet paper, no utility bills, no house, no “nuthin”) an entire civilization believed was the savior of humankind: no more. The money-lenders (and NO, this is not code for persons of the Jewish religion and/or extraction) have succeeded in turning this holiday into indirect worship of Mammon, trivializing it into a shameful display of conspicuous consumption where possible, bemoaning the difficulties of those who cannot buy, buy buy… “For the CHILDREN.” The “children” and their parents might actually benefit from learning a bit about austerity and begin contentedly practicing it themselves while it is being forced upon them by the money-lenders and their political puppets.

    If you’re a non-believer with respect to Christian dogma, have yourself a “Zen” Christmas and ignore the quasi-pagan materialist orgy that a once spiritual holiday has become. If you can’t or won’t feed the hungry, then STARVE THE BEAST!!

    Ho-ho-ho humbug!

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    7th December 2011 at 9:09 am

  2. Wyoming Mike says:

    Jim, in all fairness, how do you know it isn’t just really good soup?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    7th December 2011 at 11:02 am

  3. Mary Malone says:

    I try to keep the spirit of the Christmas season by making donation to the local food pantry in my husband’s name for his gift.

    My sisters and I chip in for lawn service for my parents – my Dad’s getting too old to mow the lawn in the height of the summer, so they really appreciate this gift.

    Everyone has so much stuff – I really can’t bring myself to buy gifts anymore.

    I used to spend an inordinate amount of time shopping for the right gift – not about money, but effort.

    Several years ago I found what I thought was a lovely gift fro my God-daughter. I had the designer handbag placed on lay-away and paid for it over a 6 week period. Really thought it was special.

    I mailed her gift to her home. Never heard back. Thought that was odd, so several months later, I asked her Mom how Lauren liked the gift. Her answer? “Gee, our Nanny threw the box downstairs and we can’t find it among all the other junk.”

    That was it for me. Now she gets a small gift, that I hand to her. If we don’t get together for Christmas, she gets nothing.

    My nephews are young and nice kids. But their worldview is really skewed. They’re asking Santa for ipads and multiple $60 video games. So, giving them $30 each which they can use to save up for what they want.

    Getting caught up in shopping ruined Christmas for me. So making jam, buying small thoughtful gifts, giving cash and sending cards is the plan.

    Christmas used to be such a magical time. Hope to bring the spirit back if we can by returning to the simplicity and humble nature of Christ’s birth.

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    7th December 2011 at 11:37 am

  4. TeresaE says:

    Back in the mid/late ’70s, the “recession” hit my family hard. Dad was still working at a General Tire as their credit manager. His days were filled with people that couldn’t afford tires and couldn’t get credit at 25% to pay for them or those that had decent credit and bought console tvs (some actually made in America!) they couldn’t afford.

    Because his pay was directly tied to both the franchise’s sales AND collections, pay was down. Thanks to the government and turmoil, the cost of everything was up (except health care, no monthly payment and reimbursements for out of pockets months down the line), his family grown, his wife unstable and times were tough for the family before he lost his job.

    The Christmas of 1977 was pretty bleak. I received a knock-off Barbie and an orange, my sibs that were under five got even less. That year my little sister had me help her write Santa and I swallowed my big sister evilness and did it. She asked for a dress that had never been worn by someone else and a cradle for her baby doll. She got neither.

    Funny how history rhymes.

    A few years back I always did the “Angel Tree,” which had angel cardboard ornaments with the underprivileged kids stating their Christmas wishes. I quit doing that after the year I could not find a wish that came from truly underprivileged kids. If your kids are asking for computers, Playstations, $50 video games and $200 tennis shoes, and you are too broke to buy them a doll, then something is truly wrong in your world.

    Starting a couple years back, I looked and looked for another Angel Tree and have found that they have gone the way of the dinosaur and analog phone.

    The saddest part is that I fear we have not even begun to see depression and bleakness in the children. That truly won’t come until food stamps slow, stop or become a futile effort thanks to inflation and/or supply disruptions in our food supply.

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    7th December 2011 at 11:49 am

  5. Pirate Jo says:

    FIVE children … ???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    7th December 2011 at 1:43 pm

  6. Dragline says:

    I think its also generational. My Millennials have told my wife and I that they already have everything they need and can’t think of anything they really want. I say bless their little hearts, but its driving the missus crazy!

    There are clothing drives and the Marines do “Toys for Tots” every year. Please give something if you can, especially if you have old warm coats that you no longer wear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    7th December 2011 at 1:58 pm

  7. Stucky says:

    Is there ANYTHING that screams obnoxious crass materialism than those fucking Lexus commercials??

    Fuck you Lexus! Eat shit. I’d rather drive a Ford than give in to your materialistic bullshit.


    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    7th December 2011 at 2:17 pm


    Merry Christmas All>search%3Fq%3DPICTURE%2BOF%2BSANTA%2BPOOPING%2BDOWN%2BCHIMNEY%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7GPEA_en%26tbm%3Disch%26prmd%3Divns&itbs=1

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    7th December 2011 at 4:31 pm



    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    7th December 2011 at 4:38 pm

  10. DaveP says:

    Same thing happened here. The self-help food and clothing place had to find larger quarters. Lines were quite long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    7th December 2011 at 4:49 pm

  11. Administrator says:


    That is a classic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    7th December 2011 at 7:07 pm

  12. Kill Bill says:

    Of course the little idiots cant remember more than one or two things – they are spawn of Xgens.

    Fuck you Lexus! Eat shit. I’d rather drive a Ford than give in to your materialistic bullshit. -Stuck

    No one wants a turd until you stick a ribbon on it

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    7th December 2011 at 8:02 pm

  13. Colma Rising says:

    I’m not rich, but I’m blessed. When people express gratitude for what they have, peace follows.

    After reading this post and the stories, I’m volunteering. I was going to drop warm stuff off at a local occupation but it’s going elsewhere…

    And the toys for tots just might get something cool.

    Teresa: One Christmas, I wanted to get my grandfather something and was bugging my dad to buy something… I was seven I think… he told me to wrap walnuts in newspaper and give it to him. I was baffled, but my dad basically said “trust me” so I did.

    I got the biggest hug ever and he took me aside and we ate them by the fire. I guess that’s what they did when he was growing up.

    We’re so fucking well off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    7th December 2011 at 8:26 pm

  14. Pirate Jo says:

    TeresaE, I have been thinking about your story today. Also today, my aunt sent me this:

    “I remember when I first got my new job, back in 1991, the job I retired from, where they paid well. My boys and I didn’t do Christmas that year because I was mad at them for not participating at all beyond opening whatever gifts I got them. There was an “adopt a family” drive at work that year, and I participated in that, instead. There were no “rules,” in that we could choose which people to buy for, but we had to turn in a list and receipts for how much we spent and for what, so that the company could match the total and perhaps adopt yet another family or two with the match money. I really enjoyed buying gifts for those families. One was a family of four who were living in a car (mom, dad and two little boys). Another homeless family had a 14-year-old daughter. I bought sleeping bags for all the children to keep them warm in their cars on winter nights, some family games and toys, too, and I don’t remember what else, but I was generous. It also occurred to me that the mother needed something to lift her spirits emotionally/spiritually and I bought her a book of nice (non-religious) uplifting poems. I felt bad about the 14-year-old girl being 14, and being poor and homeless, and I got her a beautiful little locket from Target. It wasn’t expensive, but I think it had a small diamond in it. I thought that in her barren life she would like to have at least one thing that was pretty and that she could show off. Of course homeless families need mainly food and warm clothing, not poem books and lockets, but I thought their spirits and emotions had needs, too. Turning in my list and receipts felt very strange, because I really didn’t like telling anyone what I had given or showing off my generosity, but it was the procedure, so that’s what I did. I don’t know whether the company disapproved of the nature of my gifts, but the next year and all the years after that, the needy family members were posted on the bulletin board with a list of what they “wanted.” We were each supposed to take down one (or more) of the names and get those individuals what was on the lists. I did not participate that year, or ever again. I didn’t think it would be nearly as much fun to just get what was on their lists, as though I were “obeying orders” of some sort. But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed choosing items myself for some of those people the first year. I don’t know what they got from other people in the company, but I’m sure my gifts were unique. I felt that I had an unusually fulfilling Christmas that year, and it made me feel very happy. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, since I never felt moved to do it again.”

    Between your story and my aunt’s, I’m going to reach a conclusion of some kind, but it hasn’t fully formed yet. I’m so glad things turned out better for you in life. I always enjoy your comments.

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    7th December 2011 at 8:39 pm

  15. BiggyTmofo says:

    I like the idea of gift certificates to local businesses such as snow removal for older folks that put money into the local economy such as giving landscapers winter work. Also donations on behalf of loved ones to legitimate charites that support causes you and the recipient agree. Examples would be Wounded Warriors or USO gifts or donations for Coats for Kids. I listed some ideas here that others have also added. It sure is better than waiting in long ass lines buying stupid shit that goes into the dumpster. Now Santa could you send me some hotties with phat bodies and fat gold stacks who own a liquor store and nighclub. Also can I have a Springfield M1A 0.308 Bushmaster. Thanks

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    7th December 2011 at 11:56 pm

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