Dear Santa–and I mean the real deal, not somebody like me, a Santa wannabe who punches a time clock and takes off his beard to scratch his chin when nobody’s looking,
Here’s the thing, Santa. Christmas is confusing. Part religious holiday, part commercial extravaganza, with ancient pagan customs like Christmas trees and mistletoe thrown in to complicate the issue. Sometimes I can’t remember who I’m supposed to represent. The guy who chose Rudolph to guide his sleigh? The early Christian saint, Nicholas of Myra? Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa?
But it’s getting more confusing all the time. Everybody’s a comedian. Do you know that last week a little boy sat on my lap and pointed out I would have to visit 822 houses per second to even hope to get everywhere I need to go on Christmas Eve. He wasn’t at all sure I could manage that or that my reindeer could pull a sleigh weighing in the neighborhood of 675,000 tons, even with Rudolph’s nose lighting the way. Smart aleck kids. What happened to requests for Mickey Mouse ears and popguns?
So now, on top of identity crises and physics lectures, we’ve been dealt the lowest of blows. In the midst of an epidemic, we Santas are not among the groups marked for priority for the swine flu vaccine. We hold these little squirming petri dishes on our laps, one right after the other, all day long, and at best we’re offered hand sanitizer. I have to wash my beard every night when I go home. Insult to injury.
So here’s my request. A swine flu shot for every Santa’s helper. Oh, and if there’s room in your sleigh for something more? How about the suspension of disbelief, the embrace of the impossible, the whispered confidences of radiantly hopeful children to a silly looking man in an itchy beard.
Okay, all those things still happen, I guess. There was the little girl in this photograph some time ago. She told me she wanted books and lots of them. She said she wanted to write books some day. Every kid’s a dreamer, I guess, then and now. I promised her I would do what I could. It was only one of about a million promises I’ve made. But you know, all those kids? Well, they were thrilled. Come to think of it, most of the time even the comedians get that certain look in their eye. You know the look I mean, the one that says that maybe a friend or even a parent told them I’m not real, but inside, they know better. They sit on my lap and despite everything else, for a moment, at least, they believe in Christmas miracles.
So okay, forget everything but the vaccine. Maybe I already have the best job in the world.
And who knows, could be some of the promises I’ve made over the years will come true after all.