Isaac's mother always writes in print. Even in letters, even on envelopes, even on gift tags. She's left-handed, you see, and she had this handwriting teacher in fourth grade who reveled in squeezing students' hands into impossible contortions and marking points off for minute smudges in ink on the practice paper. This teacher declared on the first day of handwriting class that she had no idea how to teach a left-handed person to write proper cursive, (and wasn't, in fact, to be honest, sure it could be done -- such a shame that the early correction of wrong-handedness had gone out of style). So Isaac's mother swore that once she was allowed to stop writing in cursive she would never use cursive again. And she doesn't.
Santa writes gift tags and thank you notes for cookies in shimmering green ink and perfect Palmer script. (Without smudges.)
Isaac's father is one of those people who can write a complex computer program entirely in his head and save it in memory to type out later, but comes back from the grocery store without eggs, and accidentally puts his earbuds in the washing machine. It's understandable that Isaac's father sometimes forgets small things because Isaac's father has a Busy Job and a Mortgage and Many Important Things to Remember. More important things to remember than his earbuds in his pocket, or the toys featured in this month's Target catalog.
Santa will take notes on the precise model of Nerf dart gun mentioned in Isaac's letter (the Nerf N-Strike Nite Finder EX-3), systematically search three different toy stores for the correct item, and have it purchased and wrapped (with a cursive gift tag) three days before Christmas.
Isaac's mother and father worry about spoiling him on Christmas with too many gifts. They make a point of regularly reminding Isaac, in the middle of the toy aisle, that there are children without roofs over their heads in this world, and yet here he is with a room already overflowing with toys.
Santa goes ahead and buys the activity set Isaac didn't even ask for that goes with the book Isaac did. And then, for good measure, Santa goes and stuffs Isaac's stocking with more candy that a child his size could possibly eat in a month.
Isaac's mother cries, and curses loudly too, when the Christmas tree slips in the stand and falls over, after she's already put all the ornaments on it, and there are her broken glass memories all over the floor. Isaac's mother and father argue over whether Isaac's father listened to Isaac's mother about how to cut the bottom of the tree, and Isaac's mother finally declares that she won't put all the ornaments back on again, she just can't.
But then she vacuums up the last of the glass and broken branches and gets up early the next morning and puts every single surviving ornament back on anyway. Because, Isaac says, what would Santa think?
What would Santa think, indeed.
Santa cannot, obviously, provide this level of service to billions of children worldwide all by himself. So Santa recruits helpers (though sadly, Santa never does seem to have enough of them).
When Isaac's father is asked by Santa to find a present for a little boy in foster care, he doesn't just buy one present -- he buys three. Because that's what Santa would do.
When Isaac's mother wraps the presents Isaac's father bought, she decides that a plain red gift bag from the store just won't do, and this green one won't do either. Santa does not, Isaac's mother thinks, prefer to wrap presents in boring bags. Instead, finally, Isaac's mother goes to the closet and pulls out the beautiful, glittery, hand-painted gift bag that Santa brought Isaac's first Christmas present in, the one she's been saving ever since to give again to someone special.
And Isaac's mother breaks her own rule, and writes the gift tag in cursive.