My two older boys have been drafting their letters to Santa this weekend. They are six and eight, and their wishlists this year are overwhelmingly weighted toward technology: handheld games, console games, a new computer, new computer games, music players and robots. Nearly everything they’ve set their sights on has a triple digit price tag. One digit too many for our budget this year. I’ve been wondering how to lower their expectations without messing with their faith.

Except in weak moments (when a Mom has to use whatever leverage she can), I don’t tie Santa’s generosity to behavior. But it’s troubled me that I don’t have a solid and sure answer to the problem of uneven distribution. Why do some of my boys’ classmates get so much more under their tree? Why did Santa bring this, but not that? So what if there’s a shortage of Wii’s—-can’t the elves just make more?

If Santa can fly all over the world in one night, why can’t he bring everything on my boys’ list? They really have been good all year.

It’s important to me that I am truthful with my children. Not indiscriminately. I do filter for what I think they are ready to handle. And I don’t believe factual is synonymous with truthful. So sharing in the magic of Santa hasn’t been an issue for me. I try to keep it simple and not embellish overmuch. I respond to a lot of unanswerables with, “I don’t know. What do you think?”

But I have to say, the thought of so much of my boys’ list being out of reach this year has had me anxious.Today, my eldest and I sat down and looked through the toy catalog together. I was hoping to encourage him to broaden the range of his list. Then I saw the picture of the Snoopy snow cone maker.

“Oh, wow,” I blurted, without really thinking. “I wanted one of those every year when I was a kid, and I never did get one.”

My son was looking at me with interest. I decided it was time to tell him more truth.

“You know, over the years, I’ve gotten lots of the things I wanted, while other things I wanted just as much, I didn’t get. And sometimes, I got things I never even knew I wanted. I wonder why.”

We looked back down at the catalog page and wondered quietly, together. And I realized that I had gotten confused, and had been thinking that I was Santa, and I was supposed to have all the answers. When all I have to do is wonder.