Note: On Nov. 19, the safety group World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) released 10 nominees for the worst toys of 2019. The 47th annual report highlights “potentially hazardous toys (that) should not be in the hands of children. Although intended for fun and entertainment, many toys contain hidden hazards unnecessarily putting children at risk of injury or death,” the group said in its less than joyful press release.

Today, I turn over this space to special guest columnist and dear friend Santa Claus who has a toy-related message for all the children out there.

Ho, ho, ho and merry Christmas, kids.

I know I should contact you through YouTube or another of those online platforms you love so well but I was forced to terminate my IT elf Winky after he was caught emailing Russians on a private server.

So I reached out to the old reliable print media hoping your grandma will pass this along after she’s through guffawing at the hilarious antics of Beetle Bailey and threatening to cancel her subscription over an editorial cartoon – again.

I’ve read each and every one of your heartfelt letters this year and I plan to fulfill all of your gift requests, with a few exceptions. Let’s get to those, shall we?

First, no one is getting a Nerf Ultra One gun. Yes, Aiden, I agree with your letter that it is “the coolest dart blaster and can shoot the dog in the butt from 120 feet away” but it’s at the top of the WATCH bad toy list this year and frankly I can’t deal with the liability, especially now that Winky is threatening a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Likewise, Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog will not be under the tree despite Olivia’s plea to “bring Spike for my little sister Chloe so she will chew on it and not the extension cord under the Christmas tree.” Chloe is getting a safer alternative, like beef jerky.

Also missing from the sack on my back this year will be Bunchems Bunch ‘N Build multi-colored activity balls, Pogo Trick Board bouncy thing and Viga Pull Along Caterpillar toddler toy, not just because they are on the WATCH list, but because they are stupid. Come on, Addison, Noah and Caden, you guys are better than that.

There will be no Diecast School Bus, which WATCH says is “sold with a ‘choking hazard’ warning on a removable, stick-on label. The firm rubber tires, mounted on plastic wheels, can be removed, presenting the potential for a serious choking injury for oral age children.”

Also, it’s a school bus. Just a school bus. Show a little more imagination, Logan. Ask grandma if you can watch Transformers on Netflix and then get back to me next year.

I also regret to inform some of you there will be no Yeti cuddle toy (which isn’t so cuddly), no Nickelodeon Frozen Treats Slime (which isn’t edible despite smelling like it is) and no Anstoy Electronic Toy Gun (which is in no way as cool as the Nerf Ultra One and cannot hit a dog in the butt from 120 feet away.)

That brings us to the Power Rangers Electronic Cheetah Claw, which WATCH says is a rigid, plastic glove that encourages children to “to use the ‘strength of the CHEETAH CLAW’ to ‘take on...enemies!’ while posing a number of potential hazards to everyone within a two-mile radius.

That’s why I say… YES! You get a Cheetah Claw! And you get a Cheetah Claw!

Heck, it’s the Christmas season. I slipped one of those bad boys on the other day, popped out of a stall and scared the reindeer poop out of Rudolph. His nose lit up like a Vegas slot machine.

In closing, it’s a dangerous world out there, kids. Just be careful with your Cheetah Claws, stay away from that vaping stuff and treat others as you would like to be treated.

Merry Christmas to all — even Winky.

Love, Santa.

Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News in Marion, North Carolina, and a humor columnist. Contact him at

Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News in Marion, North Carolina, and a humor columnist. Contact him at

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