With the advent (get it?) of the Christmas season, I thought a few more holiday-related questions were in order this week.

Dear Ann Cannon • Do I have to do the Santa thing with my kid?

Santa Is a Phony

Dear Santa Is a Phony • No. However! Be warned that your future son- or daughter-in-law who grew up believing in Santa Claus may be less than happy with this decision when attempting to establish holiday traditions with your future grandchildren. #ipredictmaritaldiscordahead.


Dear Ann Cannon • How do I escape the Lone Ranger syndrome? It would be nice to spend time with my visiting grandkids instead of being exiled to the kitchen and laundry room when they visit this Christmas.

— Lone Ranger

Dear Lone Ranger • Have you asked them to help you? Because here’s the thing I’ve noticed about visiting grandchildren (myself included back in the day). “Reading minds” isn’t their superpower. Invite them (and their parents) to join you IN the kitchen so that you can all spend time AWAY from the kitchen. Together.


Dear Ann Cannon • How do I tell my children the truth about Santa Claus?

— Dreading That Moment

Dear Dreading • Honestly, I thought it was way easier to tell my kids the truth about babies and where they come from than it was to tell them the truth about Santa Claus. Which is why I never did. I figured somebody at school would tell them for me. Turns out I was right.


Dear Ann Cannon • I am currently studying abroad in Tokyo. I love it, but I’ll be spending Christmas away from my family for the first time. The thought makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. Any ideas?

— Expat

Dear Expat • Christmas, as you’re probably now discovering, is a deal in Japan. It’s not a religious holiday, but the Japanese enjoy getting their Clark Griswold on and spreading some holiday cheer. Still, it’s hard to be so far away from home — especially for the first time.

Because my niece Jayne lived in Tokyo, I asked her for suggestions. Here’s what she said: “As someone who lived in Japan during Christmas, I get how hard it is. It’s far away, and it seems that Tokyo is absolutely the furthest thing culturally, geographically and demographically from anywhere in the U.S. But there is also something magical about Tokyo. Something magical about sitting at the Starbucks at the Shibuya Scramble [the large crosswalk in the heart of Tokyo], watching people scurry along as you sip peppermint hot cocoa with a good book in hand. Something magical about the illuminations they have at any major train station. Something magical about the little bread shops with tinsel in the windows. Something magical about bundling up and walking around Yoyogi Park, Arisugawa Park or Hikarigaoka Park. There are little pieces of magic to be found everywhere in the city, and maybe that can brighten your spirits a bit.”

In other words, even though things feel tough right now, make the most of this unique opportunity.


Dear Ann Cannon • I’m suffering through a loss of faith … in Santa Claus! I saw two of him at the mall! How can there be two? Then a third with a red kettle outside the WalMart! Now, I’m beginning to question the past 64 years of leaving cookies and milk out on Christmas Eve. I always looked forward to seeing the milk drained and nothing but crumbs left on the plate. But now I think it was my parents, and more recently my wife, who’ve been responsible for that. No Santa? What’s next? Honest politicians? Unbiased journalism at Fox and CNN?

— Disillusioned

Dear Disillusioned • NOT SO FAST! You really think that CNN and Fox (and I’ll throw MSNBC into the mix here) may be capable at some point of unbiased journalism? Now that would be a true Christmas miracle.


Dear Ann Cannon • How do you gift so that loved ones feel cared for and special without breaking the bank?

— Needs Ideas

Dear Needs Ideas • Because others also asked this question, I’m going to open it up for suggestions. Meanwhile, one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever received was a Christmas card from a young cash-strapped fellow employee who took the time to handwrite me a long, specific note and tuck it in my box at work.

Tribune readers, now it’s your turn.

Do you have a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.