If you’ve never gotten a poorly wrapped present from McSanta on Christmas, it’s not because you’ve been bad, it’s just that you’re not in the immediate family of state Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga.
McDonald, the father of three grown daughters, has a history of augmenting the loot left by Santa Claus with a few choice items from his alter ego, McSanta.
But gift giving at Christmas hasn’t always been fun and games for McDonald, who had to find Cabbage Patch dolls for his daughters during the height of that craze.
After securing two dolls, he was one short and in crisis mode, until former Saratoga Springs Mayor A.C. Riley helped him get the final doll.
This experience stood out for McDonald, who said he has given many gifts in his life since he is a father and a grandfather.
“As you get older you realize that gifts are less relevant,” said McDonald, who was excited about getting his entire family together this year.
When he was younger, gifts were more important, with the best two coming in ninth grade when McDonald got a baseball glove and a starter golf kit.
“Some [gifts] are very emotional,” he said. “And they’re not always expensive.”
In some instances, a gift can be as simple as donating one’s time, which was the case for U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who read “The Polar Express” to a special education class.
“[I] poured myself into it so it would be as inspirational for them as possible,” he said. “In the end, a couple of students came up to me and presented me with jingle bells.”
Tonko said the moment was touching and is a memory that he will cherish forever. Since then he’s been given many Christmas gifts, but he said none were as meaningful as that exchange.
The best gift he ever gave was a Nativity scene he created for his parents while they were on vacation. Working with his sister, they recreated all the major players from the birth of Jesus at 12 to 18 inches.
State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, said the gift he looks forward to this year is a Christmas Eve dinner and a Christmas meal prepared by his 95-year-old mother.
Food prepared by his mother is a tradition for Tedisco, who has another recurring favorite, which is when his family, including his brother’s family, adopts a needy family for Christmas and provides them with money for presents.
They contact a group like the Salvation Army, which connects them with a family, and then Tedisco said they give them money to buy gifts for themselves.
Not all presents, though, are purchases that can fit under a tree or in a stocking, like the favorite gift of state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna.
Farley said the nicest present he ever got was from his daughter this year, who purchased a lawn service to take out all the leaves he has in his backyard.
The oak trees and maple trees in his yard create leaf coverage that is usually a foot high, according to Farley.
“Now I don’t have to haul them,” he said.