And she looks a little like this…

Shih-tzu Maltese puppy

Yes, things have gotten interesting again around here the last few days (as if they were ever dull). Our neighbours got a little puppy last weekend, and by little, I’m not exaggerating. She is a Shih-tzu/Maltese cross, and so petite that they can’t get a collar or harness small enough for her. She is not really a dog, but a teddy bear. A fluff ball that is desperate to play, and whimpers while she tries to go down stairs.

As soon as we met her, I could feel a little tug…and steeled myself against her cuteness. We cannot add a dog to the already busy lives we lead.

Then yesterday, Liam and Meghan wrote their letters to Santa, and things went from tug to …well, downright turmoil.

Liam’s list consisted of three words: DOG, DS, and GUN.

Theories abound on what I should do, what Santa can and cannot deliver, and the ways in which I can or cannot get out of this hard place. But one thing’s for sure, he has me cornered.

The three things I’ve been saying no to for the past year, have come at the same time that my sweet little boy might be doubting the truth in a jolly old elf named Santa Claus! Doubt that my own failure as the Tooth Fairy probably brought on, with the help of some older boys at school. No pressure or anything.

So I have withheld comment to Liam, mostly, and left the letter on the mantle, in hopes answers come to me before it’s the weekend when we’ll have time to go to the post office.

Then I sat down with Meghan and wrote her letter by dictation.

It went like this:

Dear Santa,
I want some kitty stuff. This is a very great day and I love it. I want a Barbie castle with princesses in it, and a remote control car for the Barbie castle (and there’s seats in the car for each princess). I like your sleigh and I like all your reindeer, and Rudolph.
Love, Meghan

I love the kitty stuff idea. It’s the Barbie stuff I am reeling over. First off, I’m disturbed that she even knows what Barbie is, let alone that she wants all these things I had no idea existed. I asked her where she got these ideas, and she said, “I made them up!” Turns out, that indeed her best friend at daycare has all these things already.

Aha…so I can keep them away from television, I can keep it all out of my house, I can assume that they won’t be in a preschool daycare, but I can’t keep her friends from talking. I’m doomed.

I see Barbie in the same vein as I see guns for boys. I just don’t think it’s doing all that much good for them. And then there’s the fact that they will get played with very little before they break or lose their appeal. They will end up in the landfill and I will have been just another consumer making a bad choice. We already have a doll house for Meghan, so I’m hoping I can find a couple of little Princesses that will fit inside, and don’t weigh on my conscience like Barbie certainly would.

The Nintendo DS is expensive, and begins us on the whole video game addiction trajectory that both Len and I both want to avoid as long as possible. Some of his friends have them, but for reasons like a need for eye movement to correct an eye problem, or because they have older siblings that have them. I think I can hold firm on this one.

Which leaves me with trying to talk Liam out of the dog and the gun, or giving in on at least the gun. Or the dog? A friend suggested today that he is probably betting I’ll cave and get him at least one thing on his list. If so, he’s playing his odds pretty well. Can a mother really call her son’s bluff?

I’ve never been a fan of the pet for Christmas idea, nor for birthdays. I just see animals as friends that come along and become part of the family without being attached to one person as a gift. I remember our first family dog was given to us by my Gran, and the others were brought to us also by circumstances beyond my parent’s control. They were a huge part of our family, the four dogs and two cats we had over the years. Which also leads me to guilt, because I really loved those animals, and have really great memories of our lives together. I really don’t want to deprive my kids of that kind of companionship.

But reality bites. My house and yard are not sprawling like the home I grew up in. My Mum was also at home all day, so there was always someone there to look after them. They were never left alone like a dog would be in this house. The other bit of reality is that animals do not just adopt themselves to a family very often in the city. They go to shelters and it’s all very formal. As much as I’d like for a dog to find it’s way to us at just the right time, I know that that is a very unlikely scenario in the city.

So, where does that leave us for Christmas morning? I’m not sure, but Christmas shopping is not looking like the predictable, easy path we’ve worn away in years past. It’s looking like it’s going to be an uphill slog. I’m hoping the view on Christmas morning isn’t one of total disappointment. Because that my dear internet, would be even harder than a six year old girl expecting diamonds, gold, and jewels for Christmas (as promised by her sisters), and getting a little book about ponies. Disappointment doesn’t cover it.