Dear Santa

santa and child.jpg

Dear Santa,

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Sorry I haven’t been a better pen pal, but, to be honest, our conversations were always a little one-sided. I don’t blame you, though. You have a very important and timely job, and I always write you during your busiest season. I know you always read my letters, though, even if you didn’t respond. How you manage it, year after year, delivering gifts and happiness to people all over the world, all in one night? I hope you plan your route so you end in a tropical place like Fiji, so you and Mrs. Claus can relax and have some quality time together, sipping piña coladas, laying in hammocks, and swimming with sea turtles. That’s what I would do.

You’ve been bringing me presents every Christmas for 35 years, and I’ve asked for many things in these last three and a half decades. Though I can only remember a few items from all those lists, I’ll never forget the year you left coal in my stocking. As I think back on it, that may have been a joke by my parents, but in case it wasn’t, I’m sorry for whatever I did and I promise I will never do it again. I’ll always remember the butterflies of anticipation the night before you would arrive. We’d leave you milk and cookies, always trying to guess which flavor was your favorite. Sorry for the oatmeal raisin; mom said they were good for you. I hope Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer were able to share the carrots. Dad said that we didn’t need to leave 9 out because other families would leave carrots too, and it would be hard to fly on a full stomach.

How are Herman and Harvey doing with their new venture, Elf on a Shelf? Everyone is talking about that nowadays, and I feel a little like a celebrity since I know the creators personally. Are they still sliding down moonbeams to check on kids like in the old days, or is there some new technology they use? I know it must have taken a great deal of extra effort to coordinate all those elves, but my brothers and I sure tried to be extra good on those days leading up to your arrival.

Well, to the point of my long overdue letter. I’m writing to you today, Santa, for a couple of reasons. The first is to say thank you. I know you’re gearing up for this year’s run, and it can’t be easy keeping track of everyone on the planet, especially at the rate we keep producing new ones! Don’t worry, Laura and I don’t have one for you yet, but we’re thinking about it, so keep an eye out. I am very excited for that day to finally come, though, because when I think back on the Christmases with my family, they are some of the brightest memories I have, and I can’t wait to have you back in our living room again to share that experience with the next generation. Until that day comes, though, I have something I’d like ask of you.

You’ve always done so well to bring me the things I ask for. I know sometimes I can go a little overboard — I mean how would you fit a Delorean under a tree anyway? It was silly to ask — but, especially in my more youthful years, you could always find a substitute that would blow me away. As I’ve grown, so have my responsibilities and my desire for things like Nerf guns and video games. Recently, I realized that all the things I’d been asking for over the years, and most of the surprise gifts too, were sitting around the house, in closets and drawers, often untouched. Sometimes I noticed that I had many versions of the same thing; many more than I needed. I know they were given with the best intentions, and that part makes me feel really good, but I guess sometimes it’s all too much. I’ve been trying hard to draw a line between the things I want and the things I need, and it turns out the “need” column is actually very small and particular. What I’m trying to say, Santa, is that I don’t want you to spend your time stuffing shiny, decorative boxes with things for the sake of filling up a living room, like the TV commercials tell us we’re supposed to do. I’m OK without all that.

That all being said, I have been keeping track of some things that I do need using the handy list that your elf, Jeff Bezos, provided, but that is mainly for my own records. Don’t worry about that. Now, before you cross me off your list altogether, I know that the act of giving is the most powerful gesture we, as humans, can offer. When a gift is received, the giver feels full and joyous for bringing happiness and gratitude into someone else’s life. Hopefully the receiver is truly happy and grateful. That’s the whole point of giving. So, if you choose to stop by this year, these are the things I would value most:

  1. An activity that I can enjoy with my family, especially if it’s something I haven’t done before.

  2. Foods and drinks that I can enjoy with others, either by cooking with it or simply sharing it.

I know it’s simple, but sometimes the best things are. If you’re still stuck, Santa, that’s OK. There are plenty of people who need things more than I do. I’ll make you a deal. If you don’t have any of those things I mentioned laying around, could you donate a few dollars to a charity for me? Anything to do with Alzheimer’s or cancer research. Or, if you happen to be passing an Arc or a Goodwill, grab as many jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves as will fit in your sack and we can hang them in the trees Downtown for homeless people to take, so they can stay warm this winter.

Oh, one more thing, Santa. Since you have way more people on your mailing list than I do, maybe you help share a message for me.

To the non-Santas of the world:
Things cost money, and money is a commodity that many of us don’t have a surplus of. Especially around this time of year, we’re encouraged to buy, buy, buy, and if we don’t have the surplus cash; put things on layaway, take out a loan, or use a credit card, all to make someone else happy. Please don’t do that for me, especially on that vile day after Thanksgiving. I will not feel good as the receiver of a gift on which you spent money you can’t spare out of perceived obligation. Instead, let’s spend some time together, because time is one commodity well all have to share. And on Black Friday, don’t stand in line at a store, get in line at one of your national parks and go for a hike. The truly important things don’t need to be plugged in.

Thanks for all the great memories, Santa. If you have any of that old magic laying around, would you mind sprinkling some of it on us as you pass over this year? We sure could use a little. It hasn’t been an easy year for my family. I know I haven’t done everything right, but I’m trying my darnedest to stay on the good list. Sometimes I’m just not sure what to do, but maybe you can help.

Good luck with your upcoming trip; I hope you have your room booked in Fiji! Say hi to Herman, Harvey, and all the reindeer for me!

Merry Christmas!
Chris Albrecht

Photo by Mike Arney on Unsplash