Holidailies had a prompt suggesting we each write a letter to Santa. I liked the notion.
Hi there, it’s me again. Yes, the hair’s a different color. Again. This really shouldn’t surprise you. I mean, no one – including me – has seen my natural hair color since I was fifteen.
I was on the phone with my mother the other night, and we were laughing about an attempt to make fortune cookies in high altitudes, from when I was seven. It’s weird the way memories surface at the oddest times, but our brains are like multi-dimensional treasure boxes that way. I don’t mind. I like surprises.
I was also thinking about all the times my mother did special things to foster my belief in you, and encourage me to expand my imagination, and enjoy childhood with all its magic and wonder – things I still appreciate today. She used to eat the carrot sticks I left out for your reindeer, and nibble the cookies, and drink the milk intended for you. One year, I woke up to find “hoofprints” in the snow outside my window, and another year a trail of red construction paper “footprints” led me from my bedroom to my over-stuffed stocking. We won’t even mention the year she stayed up to the wee hours finishing the entire wedding trousseau for Barbie, Chuck (Ken was so 1977), and all their friends – neighbors still remember the cursing that came from her lips as she worked with tiny darts. My mother was a pretty amazing elf, when you consider that she worked full time the entire time I was growing up.
When I got too old for footprints and plates of cookies, my mother still let her gentle mischief out to play. I turned 38 earlier this year, and I still receive gifts that are marked from “Santa,” and while mom and I both know that the handwriting on those tags matches her own, we play the game because it’s fun.
The point of all this, Santa, is that you and I have a very special relationship that goes all the way back to when my mother used to use Elmer’s glue and glitter to draw stars and candy canes on my packages. I may have stopped writing to you, but we have a connection, you and I, so when I give you my list this year, I know you’ll pay attention.
I could ask you for any number of things – subtract forty pounds, please, patch the dry wall in the hallway, make Fuzzy’s job less stressful, help my dog feel better, let me win the lottery (without having to play, of course, because those scratch-off things wreak havoc on my nails…) – but all of those are things for me, and at Christmas when we’re inundated with commercials for THINGS and STUFF, I believe it’s important to look outside ourselves.
So if you would wave your magic peppermint-stick wand and give the world the PEACE it needs, that would be a pretty nifty thing. Peace used to be a beautiful word – it meant serenity, but not complacence, and stillness, but not oppressive silence. Now? Now it’s something most people are afraid to ask for, afraid to want, unless they’re begging for it in the voice of a harried parent or caregiver who just wants “a little peace and quiet so I can hear myself think!”
Maybe we think Peace is bad for the economy, but look at the numbers, Santa: war certainly hasn’t helped us much. Maybe we’re afraid peace would mean bringing home soldiers and we equate that with putting them out of jobs. Santa, I’ve come to know a LOT of soldiers over the last three years – most of them relish peace as well. There are very few people who actually LIKE violence, hatred, and anger.
Speaking of anger…we all seem to be kind of bitchy and angry far too much of the time. This level of stress has become pervasive, Santa, and it’s not good. In times of economic disaster, we need to be calm, we need to be supportive, and we need to have hope. So, add HOPE to my list, please, because it never goes out of style.
Let’s throw in some TOLERANCE, as well, but only if it comes in one of those sets, like oil and vinegar for dipping bread into, with RESPECT as the other half. Tolerating beliefs that are different from yours is just the first step, you have to respect them as well. This doesn’t mean agreeing with other viewpoints, it just means accepting that there are other viewpoints that are as equally valid as your own.
I only have one more item on my list, this year, Santa: CONNECTION. We are all so wired into our smart phones and social media outlets that we’ve started interacting via sound bite. Such things are great for minor day-to-day interactions, but life doesn’t happen in neat increments of 140 characters, and despite our technological advances, we seem to be losing a lot of personal connection. When was the last time you wrote a letter, Santa, on actual paper? When was the last time you received one that wasn’t a bill or an advertisement? I’m a fan of Christmas cards, of course, but I’d much prefer it if each of us picked one day during the coming year to write a letter to a friend or relative. Not email. Not a fax. An actual letter. With, you know, postage. We need to stay connected to language as much as we need to connect to each other.
So, that’s my list, Santa: PEACE, HOPE, TOLERANCE, RESPECT, and CONNECTION. I could add LOVE, but I think if you have the other five elements, love follows on its own.
Thanks so much for your time, Santa. Give my love to Ms. Claus, and scratch Blitzen behind his antlers for me – you know how he likes it.
P.S. I bet you’re totally wishing I’d asked for something simple. Like a pony.