Every now and then I come up with an idea so brilliant I’m surprised no one has thought of it before me. This particular gem occurred to me after meeting a young couple who had five kids and then that same day speaking with a couple who didn’t have any but were trying. The man with all the kids was complaining about the cost of Christmas, what with five children and all, and that’s when I had the bright idea that if, during the holidays, he rented out two or three of his kids to the couple who didn’t have any, they’d all be happy.
As everyone knows, there are good Christmases and bad Christmases. Good Christmases are the ones with little kids; bad Christmases have surly teenagers and jaded adults who snarl at one another and then pass out gift cards to bad restaurants. Growing up, all my Christmases were good — until my siblings and I became teenagers and nothing our parents bought pleased us, so they stopped trying and gave us socks and underwear. Eventually, we moved out and married and Christmas still sucked until we started having children, then it was fun again — until our kids became teenagers and things went south. Now our children are getting married and producing grandchildren, so I’m pleased to report Christmas is good again in the Gulley family.
Good Christmases are the ones with little kids; bad Christmases have surly teenagers and jaded adults who snarl at one another.
Here’s my brilliant idea: I want to start a website where people who need a kid or two for Christmas can pick out a child whose parents want to offload them on Christmas Day, making a little money in the process. To protect the renters, they’d need to see the school record of the child they’re renting, just to make sure they’re not getting stuck with a delinquent. And I suppose the renters should pass a background check to weed out the perverts. With those two stipulations, I don’t see how anything could go wrong. Of course, every successful business venture requires a catchy name, so I’d call mine RentAKid.com.
While Christmas would obviously be the busy season for RentAKid.com, there are other times it’s useful to have a kid or two. Let’s say you’ve been asked on a date by someone you don’t care for, who won’t take “no” for an answer. Sign on to RentAKid.com, lease a few hellions, and take them on the date with you. Introduce them as your children and let them do what hellions do. Problem solved.
The kid who single-handedly improved our Christmas is our granddaughter Madeline, who’s 5 years old and wants to be a mermaid when she grows up, so she took swimming lessons this past summer to further her vocational aims. She’s asked Santa to bring her flippers and goggles, which I suspect Santa, knowing we can never have enough mermaids, will do. As her grandfather, I confess to worrying about Madeline’s choice of careers. Between plastic, sharks, and nuclear submarines, the ocean isn’t exactly the safest work environment. I suspect the Japanese fishing industry snags thousands of mermaids every year, so I’m giving my granddaughter a Case pocketknife for Christmas to cut her way free should she become entangled.
When I confided my fears to my wife, she told me mermaids weren’t real, but she’s said the same thing about Santa Claus, whom I know for a fact exists, at least according to my granddaughter, who in all the years of our association hasn’t lied to me yet. I do admit Santa seemed absent during some periods of my life, but when my granddaughter was born, he reappeared and has remained ever since, a pleasant and happy fixture.
Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor and author of 22 books, including the Harmony and Hope series, featuring Sam Gardner.
This article is featured in the November/December 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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