Last Call: The Intricacies Of Leaving Food For Santa

At this point, our family Christmas sits on a throne of lies. I asked the kids this year if they still believe in Santa, and they immediately protested, "Of course!" I'm guessing that they're really just afraid that they'll get fewer presents once Santa disappears from our family canon. Or all those nights of watching Santa's voyage on the NORAD tracker definitely had an effect. But they have to recognize all those stocking stuffers that definitely come from Walgreens at this point, right? Still, once again I will wrap certain gifts for Christmas morning in special "Santa" wrapping paper, marking the kids' names in big block letters with a Sharpie. And we'll leave a tray of cookies for Santa.

This is done on a special Santa plate, after making peanut butter blossoms (my daughter's choice) and thumbprints (my son's). There are years when we would have missed cookie-baking altogether, if not for having to make cookies for Santa. We also leave out carrots for the reindeer, with a note like this one my son wrote quite a few years back. Let me translate it for you: "Dear reindeer: I do not think you can read but if you can, try some carrots to keep you going." Logical and thoughtful. Then my husband or myself has to remember to wolf down some cookies and take a bite of stale carrots before daybreak to make it look like we've actually had midnight visitors.

Why do I keep going with this ruse long after we're all old enough to know better? Personally, I remember the Santa years fondly as definite highlights of my childhood. So every Christmas, I find a way to keep the mystery going for one more year. This has got to be the final one, though. Sorry, hungry reindeer. [Gwen Ihnat]

Bernot, over and out for 2018

Hi Takeout readership, this is my final day of work for 2018 as I begin my holiday hiatus tomorrow. This time last year, The Takeout was barely a month old, just a little fledgling fawn stumbling around the wide internet forest. Would it survive? Would it find its way? It can, and it did. And that's because you graced us with your eyeballs, your attention, your hilarious comments that had me kicking myself for not thinking of the jokes first. Thank you, and see you on the flip side of this new year. Drink something tasty while I'm gone, k? [Kate Bernot]