Santa and I, we have a problem. Much to my own shame, I'm terribly greedy when it comes to recognition. Imagine my angst when I listen to my kids for months on end, saying they want this, and that, some other things, too, while I quietly commit to memory which toy or movie or book will make them silly with glee at Christmas. All to be gifts "From: Santa."

I plot, I buy, and then I lie about what's inside all the big boxes I hide in my closet. Consider the work I had in front of me last week when the UPS guy dropped off huge boxes at my front door during dinner and the kids asked me what's inside of them. One box contained a pogo stick that will be one of the more disastrous gift choices of my life. The other had an aircraft carrier toy inside. However, from the size of the box that was delivered, I think the catalog is a wicked liar about the toy's size.

I don't even want to contemplate the logistical nightmare of wrapping that behemoth, but that's a problem for Christmas Eve when I'm already in tears and pulling out my hair with other preparation issues. The problem of that day with UPS, though, was keeping up with the game, the game that Santa is doing all this, not me. So again, "What's in the boxes, Mommy?"

"Coat hangers." It was the first thing that came to mind. I'm not proud of this lack of creativity but it is what it is. And yes, my children thought I was bat crazy at that point -- because who needs that many coat hangers -- but no they haven't bothered to double check.

So after all this secrecy and running around business, I'm to sit there at midnight on Christmas Eve, wrapping, taping and bowing up present after shiny present so I could put "From: Santa" on it?

Did Santa go to three different stores to find that one Lego Ninjago set? Did Santa use the money he saved at the third store to pay for all the wasted gas driving to different stores in the first place? Oh, that's right. Santa doesn't use fuel. He powers his sleigh with belief and magic and Christmas miracles. That's pretty awesome for you, Santa. I bet that doesn't cost $3.60 a gallon.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, sitting on my bedroom floor at 12:38 a.m. on Christmas Eve, having an internal conflict on whether to finally throw Santa under the bus and write "From: Mommy, the chick who birthed you."

I remember last year, the conflict made me sick to my stomach. Well, that's what I thought it was at first, but later realized it was all the cookies and milk I force-fed myself once the kids were in bed, keeping up the charade that Santa not only brought all the cool gifts, but he pilfered all the good sweets, too.

So, what to do?

Oh, whom am I kidding? I'll accept getting fatter on the cookies I eat on Santa's behalf, and accept getting my credit for only the non-fun stuff under the tree like shoes and pajamas. And why? Because I'm a mom and moms are used to sucking it up.

With that, I wish you a very wonderful holiday season!


On an unrelated note, there's some news I want to share with you. My first novel is releasing on Jan. 1. My literary agent found me a publisher who in turn signed me for a three-book contract in the suspense/thriller genre. The first is called "Unholy Hunger" and you can find it on or right here in town, at Russo's. I'll be releasing a novel each January for the next three years. Even though they're suspense books, I still manage to sneak humor -- sometimes dark humor -- in there as much as I can.

I also wanted to share two dates with you: I'm doing a book launch party downtown at Chef's Choice Noodle Bar on New Year's Eve, Dec. 31. If you're looking for festivities that night -- food, dancing, general merriment -- email me for details at the address below. I'd love to see you! The other event will be a book signing at Russo's from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 5.

You can find more information on the book, including watching a book trailer, at You'll likely notice that for my book I've changed my last name to James. What can I say? How many of you can actually pronounce the real one? Not to mention the powers that be suggested it. My husband was a bit sore over it but he's come around. Sort of. Maybe.

-- Heather Ijames is one of three community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Ijames, not necessarily The Californian. Send email to her at Next week: Inga Barks.