Those berries are poisonous, you know

I got a little nostalgic for the old Santa believin' days this year, I must admit. But I don't miss the guilt I had for lying about Santa, nor do I miss the dread of breaking the news, a dread that coated my lying soul like a sticky film of cat hair-covered candy canes for so long. A couple of weeks ago Jackson did ask me if I were sure Santa wasn't real. Oh, buddy, it's hard to let go, especially after having absorbed all those supremely clarifying Christmas movies that deny the boring logic of adulthood so convincingly. The boring adulthood that pays for all those presents under the tree! But whatever.

Despite the last minute doubts, Jackson had not been able to resist prodding several of his peers about where they stood on the Santa question. I had to put a stop to it after I overheard him dismantling the psyche one of his friends by saying, "You know there's no Santa, right? It's just your parents." That always feels nice, to know that after a playdate you're handing back an irreparably damaged child to his mom and dad. Oh, Jackson got a talking to after that.

And a second-hand electronic drum set for Christmas. He can smack that thing as hard as he wants and, as long as we can limit the long-term headphone-volume damage, it's no more annoying than a Christmas hamster in a creaky little hamster wheel. So, a little bit annoying, yes, especially when it's 2:15 in the morning and our new hamster friends are politely taking turns enjoying a nocturnal spin around the old plastic habitat.

Their names are Wheelie and Snowball. I know it's hard to tell, but squint -- Snowball's the dark one.