All I want for Christmas is posted on the Internet

In keeping with the growing popularity of e-commerce sites, the traditional Christmas list has gone high-tech as well. The act of writing a wishlist is no longer just an exercise in composition, but in computer skills, since many kids now send their letters via e-mail.

This year, a whole crop of sites has sprung up that let kids post their Christmas lists on the Internet. Similar to the online registry services that brides use, the sites let kids list the gifts they want, and keep track of what's been purchased, to prevent duplicates.

In practical terms, it makes sense: Adult gift-givers who may be clueless as to the latest "in" toy or item of clothing need no longer worry. Kids can e-mail wishlists to their parents, attaching notes. Some parents have jokingly reported that it's the smoothest communication they've had with their offspring all year.

For those parents who prefer handwritten missives, however (or who find Christmas too materialistic already), these sites may seem somewhat obnoxious. Some simply give kids a mechanism for making a list - with no personal message attached. And many sites are commercially sponsored, with direct links to merchants.

But those sites that encourage kids to post actual letters can make for fun reading.

One boy begins his letter: "I have been trying to be very good this year. It is hard sometimes though."

Another boy asks for LEGOs, but urges, "please forget socks, slippers, and sweaters."

Amy from Australia wants a baby sister, and Andrew from Wisconsin informs, "I want my two brothers to get some toys too - but they are not always nice."

Some children even remember what Christmas is really about, and ask for "world peace" (along with Pokmon). And several nicely limit their lists to a few items, or assure their parents that they don't expect to get everything they've asked for: "I love anything I get," concludes one girl, "but I know it's easier to have a guideline."

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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