"Christmas is coming." It's just something you say when your husband expresses interest in a bulletproof Aston Martin or a three-way with Jenna Fine.

Unthinkingly, the other night when Jackson was idly demanding a few new Marvel villains and some Star Wars Guys to round out his small but mighty collection of dolls action figures, I said, in an effort to put the purchase off for a couple of weeks, "Well, if you're good, Santa will bring you some toys for Christmas."

Eyes widened, wheels spun, pins were heard to drop.

"Santa? Is bringing me toys?"

I had sort of planned on not taking Jackson for a ride on the Fantasy Father Figure Bus. It was easy enough for me, at around age five, to figure out that Santa Claus was somebody's big fat lie when I deduced that our house didn't have a chimney. But there I was, helplessly, as though possessed by the tongue-tickling spirit of Yukon Cornelius, cracking open the encyclopedia of avarice from candy canes to Norelco shavers.

Before I was even done outlining the basics Jackson was struggling to open the front door. When gently questioned, he replied, wild eyed, SANTA'S COMING! HE'S BRINGING ME A GREEN GOBLIN! Naturally, this is where Jack stepped in to inform Jackson that not only would he have to wait seven more weeks, but if he stepped out of line even once during escrow come Christmas Day he'd be trying to face down his superarticulated Spiderman with a lump of coal.

The upshot is, whenever Jack comes through the door now Jackson stiffens with excitement and asks, "Is it Santa?!" And anticipation once again turns to hollow disappointment, as it will continue to do for the next forty-nine days, making Jack feel as welcome as holy water in Satan's fruit punch.

And that's the story of Jesus!