Let’s hope Father Christmas has an email account because the country’s children – as young as 6 years old – have gone digital. IPods, iPads and iPhones topped this year’s holiday wish lists.
Families gathered Sunday for the last day of Zaitunay Bay’s Christmas market, which houses dozens of Lebanese artisans and designers as well as several nonprofit organizations promoting various charity work.
And though the festively dressed children running through the cabin-lined street fair appeared no different than those of old, their gift requests have gotten an upgrade. 
“This year I want an iPad,” said 12-year-old Aya, standing confidently with a giant red heart painted on her cheek.
Though either of these gifts cost upward of $650, Aya demonstrated the likelihood of getting one with two hands about 15 centimeters apart: “This likely,” she said. It seemed a pretty good chance as her sister chimed in that Aya was likely going to get her iPad – after all, she got a BlackBerry last year.
Aya stood in front of Zaitunay Bay’s children’s corner, where kids aged 2 to 12 sent letters out to the North Pole via LibanPost, decorated wooden gift boxes, had their faces painted and got a last-ditch visit with the market’s very own Santa Claus.
Workers at the children’s corner confirmed the most common wishes slipped into their mail box by children old enough to read started with an “i.”
Inside the craft cabin manned by Baffouns, a children entertainment group, 6-year-old Layal held unrealistic expectations for an iPod under the tree this year. Of all the children who offered up their wishes, Layal’s imagination was only outdone by her sister’s. Two-year-old Layan asked for a live elephant, her mother said. “Akeed, no, maybe a stuffed elephant,” the mother said as she watched Layal and Layan string beads into necklaces.
As to where 6-year-olds have learned about Apple products: “I have no idea, no clue, but she’s obsessed with it,” Layal’s mother said.
Zouzou, 11, offered another lofty Christmas dream gift, wishing Father Christmas would send him a girlfriend.
But if not, a pair of black, high-top Converse will do, he said.
“If they’re older than 5 years, then they want iPads,” said the young woman manning the LibanPost cabin.
After their visit with Santa Claus, Chloe, 4, and Joseph, 2, proved at least the country’s smallest children remained humble in their gift wishes. “A baby doll, a sick one,” Chloe said into her father’s ear. Taking a while to think about what he would like for Christmas, Joseph finally uttered: “A puzzle.”
Likewise, 4-year-old Othman hoped for a motorized – and age appropriate – toy car. His toddler-aged little brother will likely get some milk, his mother said with a laugh.
John, 5, also asked for a motorized car this Christmas. “Red!” he said.
Dancing around the market square, John’s little sister may soon ask for dance lessons. But for now, 4-year-old Yasmine will likely be content with a Barbie, her mother said.
Eliane, 9, wrote down a list of electronic gifts this year, but left out pricey gadgets. She asked for a karaoke kit, the Littlest Pet Shop Fairies Fun Rollercoaster play set and the buzzing board game Operation. “It’s where you are a doctor and you lose if he makes the ‘Ahhh’ sound,” Eliane explained.
Strolling down the seaside boardwalk in step with her father, Maya, a thoughtful and outspoken 7-year-old, surprised her father with a simple Christmas wish: “A doll. I want quite a big doll, but just a doll,” she said. “Or maybe a teddy bear.”
Astounded, her father asked if she was sure she didn’t want any electronics. “Oh yeah!” Maya replied. “I want an iPod.”