Kids don’t really write letters to Santa much anymore. To be honest, no one really writes letters to anyone anymore. I guess they could email him their lists, but considering there was a time when these correspondences involved cursive writing, pretty paper, and forever stamps, there’s some magic missing from a message that reads, “hiiii – idk wut im gittin, lol kk bye.” Sometimes progress can be depressing that way.
Honestly, though, kids aren’t the ones who need to pen letters to Santa Claus anyway. Santa sees them already. He’s watching all year through his network of jingle spies. There are songs about it. If your eight-year-old wants a Hatchimal under the tree, Santa knows. Heck, everyone who has talked to your kid within the past two months knows. There’s no need to clutter up the toyshop’s inbox with the positive points of buying the unicorn one versus the bear one. He’s got it. He’s Santa.
You know who needs to write to the Clauses? We do. The adults. We’re the ones who don’t really get to explain our needs to anyone. I mean, sure, we manage to squeak out occasional and poorly described complaints, but that doesn’t explain what we need. Most of the time, it just comes out as, “Man. I’m really tired.”
If I could sit down to really write a greeting to Saint Nick, it would probably start with some gratitude. No one is put upon more than Santa Claus. All anyone does is demand things and he requests very little back. He simply asks that we be “good”. He doesn’t even define what “good” is. If you eat ten people a week, eat five instead. Santa’s watching and he’ll bring you a bike. That’s a pretty sweet deal.
I’d probably my letter off with some gratitude, but not for any presents I had as a kid or all those mall pictures that have evaporated over time. It would be for the joy his existence brings. The mere thought that there’s a benevolent being who lives to reward us simply for good deeds and cookies makes the usually dark world a brighter place.
I don’t think I would ask for any material things, to be honest, but not necessarily for selfless reasons. I wouldn’t ask for material things because, well, I’m a grown up. I have my own money. Once you hit a certain age, you don’t really need a new Xbox as much as you need juice boxes for tomorrow morning’s lunches and maybe an hour of quiet to watch House of Cards. Your priorities shift and suddenly, the things you desperately need can’t always be wrapped in paper.
Do you know what I need, Santa Claus? Peace of mind. I need the knowledge that my family will be OK and no harm will come to the people I love. I need to be able to see the good in situations that seem nothing but bad. I need my brain to stay happy when forces within me are sometimes dragging me in the opposite direction.
Honestly, Santa, I can get pretty bummed out at the holidays. I hope that doesn’t offend you. These decorations hanging all around me and the music in the air bring up some pretty intense memories. The entire month of December has a universal theme everywhere you go. If something traumatic happens to you at the mall, you remember it. If something traumatic happens to you at the mall in December, you remember it…with giant plastic candy canes.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. Your reindeer, elves, and edible houses all make me smile. There are, however, some holly, jolly December days gone by that weren’t so holly and jolly. There was the day I had my heart attack and stumbled my way to the emergency walk-in center near my house. Dizzy, shaking, and far worse off than I realized, I can still see the giant decorative snowflakes dangling around the strip mall as I walked through the gate. I had a whole Jingle Bell Bypass that year, complete with an in-hospital Christmas parade as I laid in the ICU recovering. Some memories become holiday memories even if they had nothing to do with a holiday. They’re just holiday due to timing alone.
That’s just one merry recollection and, sadly, probably not the worst. That said, I’m not trying to bring you down, Mr. Claus. Honestly. You probably hear complaints a lot of that. I’m just saying that for some of us, being “good” at the holidays can be as simple as not falling to pieces at any moment. Some days, I deserve a pat on the back for just standing up.
I hope you see that. They say you see me when I’m sleeping and you know when I’m awake. So you know how little I sleep, right? It’s rough and I’m trying. All I ask in return is that you watch over the people I love and, well, maybe make everyone be nicer to each other.
I know that’s a lofty request. People are who they are and the absence of civility doesn’t suggest that you haven’t done your part. You can’t make people be anything other than what they are. I learned that a while ago. Sometimes a frog is a frog, no matter how many times you kiss them. Gross.
I guess I can just do it by myself anyway. If I try to be positive in my everyday life and I teach my children the same, then maybe we’ll be the ones who brighten someone else’s day. Then they can do the same for others and soon, we’ll all be happier. It might take a while, but we can try and it starts with me.
Sure, the holidays might not be a black and white thing in terms of emotions. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love and appreciate this time of year, Santa. It just means that our relationship isn’t superficial. It’s complicated, but we understand each other.
Thank you, Santa Claus. You’ve given us far more than we’ve ever unwrapped.