Reining in expectations of Christmas wishlists

Liam Croke


Liam Croke

Reining in expectations of Christmas wishlists

I didn't get a Scaletrix set in 1977, but the one I did get thrilled me n onetheless

A friend of mine was telling me a funny story about his eight-year-old son, who didn’t get a wink of sleep last Monday night. You see, he had to put his Santa list together and deciding what was on the list and what was off, came between him and his night’s sleep.

He finally settled on what he wanted and presented his wish list to his parents on the Tuesday morning.

He had no fewer than 15 items he wanted Santa to deliver – 15! And he didn’t present the list to them on a hand-written piece of paper. Oh no, he had his list typed on an iPad no less. For a second, his father thought he was going to present his list, via power point presentation.

My friend said when he got to item 11, he thought they were going to cost Santa about €600, and he said at that stage he just couldn’t swallow the slice of toast he had been chewing since he began reading the list, it refused to go down his throat. Maybe he knew that if he got to item 14, it would be coming back up again and fairly quickly at that.

Item 14 was something that if you gave him a hundred, no, a thousand, chances to guess what his son might look for, he would never have come up with it. There it was, staring at him, on his iPad, bulleted at number 14, in century gothic font style:

14. Swansea FC away jersey

What the fridge! The child supported Liverpool. They were running late for school and work, so they all agreed to revisit the list later that night.

Throughout the day, mum and dad were texting and calling each other, reviewing the list and agreeing what Santa would allow on the list and what he just couldn’t, so that when they had the conversation with their son, they were going to be on the same page.

To cut a long story short, the Swansea FC away jersey that was going to cost Santa €50 was off the list and it was narrowed down to five presents. I must be really getting old because back when I was 8, Santa would bring you two presents and one of those was a selection box. Because I don’t have space here, in next week’s article, I am going to give you my tips for a debt- and guilt-free spending Christmas. But while we are on the subject of presents, let me share the best present Santa ever gave me.

Every year, I would ask him for the same thing, a racing car set. And Santa never let me down; every year he delivered.

But there was one year, I think it was 1977 (I was seven) that I will remember for two reasons. The first was because it was the best racing car set ever. And the reason why it was the best was because the cars every other Christmas went at different speeds. The red car was always faster than the yellow one, but this year they went around at the same speed so the racing was much more exciting.

And the racing car sets Santa delivered by the way were not those fancy Scaletrix ones. As much as I would have loved if they were, they weren’t as fancy as them, but for me they were brilliant nonetheless.

Anyway, what a Christmas day 1977 was, with this particular racing set.

The second reason Christmas 1977 was so memorable was what happened on St. Stephen’s day. The minute I woke up, I ran downstairs as I couldn’t wait to restart the race I began the day before.

James Hunt was driving the red card and Niki Lauda was in the yellow one, and there was nothing between them. I opened the door and looked in disbelief because there were both cars and half the track looking up at me all chewed up and mangled.

Our dog, Waggs, was not a lover of F1 and maybe he couldn’t take another day listening to James and Niki going around the track, with a seven-year-old commentating on their every move. So he took matters into his own paws and chewed up my track, and chewed up my Christmas in the process.

I don’t know how it came up but I was telling this story last year to my girls, Rachel, Emily and Sarah, about two weeks before Christmas.

My youngest, Sarah, got very upset. She came over to me and hugged me and couldn’t stop crying because she felt so sorry for her dad and what happened to his racing car set.

I didn’t want to upset her, and didn’t tell them because I wanted them to feel sorry for me. The story began more out of fun than anything else because I was telling them how Santa brought their Auntie Miriam a typewriter that year but forgot to bring her paper, and then I told them about my car set.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Christmas morning 2015 arrived, and we all went downstairs to check and see if Santa had been and he had, and the excitement was great.

The girls were opening their presents and there was paper flying everywhere, boxes and batteries going in all direction. And then Sarah looked at me and pointed to a box wrapped under the tree, with my name on it – and it was labelled Liam, not Dad.

“Did Santa leave you anything this year dad”? Sarah asked. And all the noise stopped suddenly, and my girls were looking at me.

“Open it up dad, see what he brought you” said my Emily.

And I peeled back the wrapping and there staring up at me, was a racing car set. And a big cheer went up and I was speechless, I couldn’t say a word. Roseann my wife looked at me, winked and smiled and guess what?

It wasn’t just any old racing car set, it was a Scaletrix one.

Liam Croke is MD of Harmonics Financial Ltd,

based in Plassey. He can be contacted at or