My mom read me what you wrote about Santa last week and I’m not sure about him. Just being real. ‘Cause if people with the fake beards go play him at the stores then that means he’s not real, so he’s not, right? My mom told me to write you about it.
My parents are divorced this year. My dad has a beard too. My mom just bought me a fruitcake at Walmart and it’s yummy. I never had fruitcake till she got it, and I’m ready for Christmas this year! Sometimes I get sad but I really like your stories.
Please write back,
I agree with you wholeheartedly on the fruitcake. It’s delicious. But—wait a second—it’s too early for Christmas!
Still, because of this pandemic I think almost everyone is ready for a little “Fa-la-la-a-la” right now. So I totally get it.
You’re lucky to be spending the holidays in lovely Virginia. And even though Christmastime is a ways off, I wish I were spending it there, too.
Once, I spent the holidays in that general region when I was younger than you, which is why your letter hit home with me. I’ll never forget it. We were temporarily staying with my aunt in a tiny fleck-on-the-map town in North Carolina.
It was a tough year. My mother was thinking of leaving my father, we were there sorting out our lives. There were heavy feelings in the air. It majorly stunk.
But anyway, my aunt’s house was the berries. I loved it. I spent most of my time ice skating on her kitchen linoleum floor, wearing socks. I was a good kitchen-skater. I could do all the things real skaters did. Triple Axels, Lutzes, quadruple inverted double underpants-splitters, etc.
The only problem was, the kitchen had a floor heater that looked like a throwback to the Revolutionary War. It was old and rusty and my uncle said it ate children sometimes.
One night when nobody was paying attention, I snuck into the kitchen and started skating around. I was about to perform my signature twirling move when I lost my footing and fell. My calf muscle snagged on the heater’s jagged metal, and the floor immediately turned crimson.
Well, the first thing you need to know about me is that I dislike hospitals with a purple-hearted passion. Because no matter the reason for your visit, they always give you a booster shot. Usually right in the you-know-what, too.
So I was unhappy when the doctor brandished a needle about the size of a billiard cue and turned me over onto my stomach. I started gyrating like a caught fish, flopping for freedom, howling.
Finally, the doc delivered an ultimatum: “We can do this the easy way or the hard way, son. Choice is yours.”
Ask your mother what an “ultimatum” is. It’s the pits.
I chose the Hard Way. Thus, the room suddenly filled with troops of nurses who held me down. Each nurse took a limb. And one old gal plopped her whole body on top of me so we were face to face, whereupon she said in a voice completely devoid of humor, “Well, aren’t you a little heathen?”
That’s the kind of service you got at public hospitals back then.
The shot hurt, although I eventually calmed down and went to sleep. But here’s where my story gets good.
Just before I was discharged, my nurse asked if I was accepting visitors. At first, I thought this was odd. I mean, hey, I was just a kid. Who’d want to visit a kid? But in a few moments I heard jingling bells and a man in a red suit entered my room.
It was him. He was a jolly old elf. He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of Duke’s mayo.
The big guy sat beside me and said: “Does the good little boy want some candy? Hold your hand out, little boy!”
I held out my hand and he gave me Raisinettes. I hate Raisinettes.
But we actually became pretty good friends. Soon he was doing magic tricks, singing songs, and everything. Then he asked what I wanted for Christmas. I decided this guy was the real deal, so I leveled with him.
I told him that I wanted to see my father again. Then I told him that I was pretty worried about where our family life was heading. In fact, I told him that I was not a big fan of Life at that moment.
There was sympathy in his eyes, I could see this even at my young age. The Big Guy placed a hand on my head and messed up my hair. His response was sincere:
“Santa will see what he can do, son.”
Then he gave me more Raisinettes. And I am choking back vomit just thinking about those little nasty brown pellets.
The following days were filled with snow, lots of TV, and chicken soup. And on one snow-filled Carolina evening, I saw a lanky redheaded man loping up my aunt’s white lawn, duffle bag over his shoulder. It was my father. I don’t recall ever being so happy. I’ve been Santa’s dedicated servant ever since.
So I cannot shed any more light on the Santa issue, in fact I’m not used to talking about him this early in November.
But what I do know is that the mystery of love and life is exactly that. A mystery. If we understood it all, there would be no magic left in this world. The one thing I can tell you for certain, however, is this:
You should keep checking your mailbox this week. Because I told Santa how much you like fruitcake.