Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Santa Letter

Dear Santa,

This year, I’d like my 8-year-old son to have the best Christmas ever, like the ones you gave me when I was a kid.

I try not to compare my experiences as a child with my son’s. If I do that, then I’ll kill myself trying to make his childhood exactly like mine. It’s like ordering a meal at a restaurant -- if I set my mind on having the meatloaf, then that’s what I must have. If the waiter comes back and says they ran out of meatloaf, I’ll turn the kitchen upside down looking for it.

So I decided I wouldn’t reflect on all the great Christmases you gave me. I couldn’t set myself up for the letdown that was inevitable.

But trying not to think about it made me think about it, and my mind wandered back to those spectacular Christmas days. I still wonder -- how did you make every Christmas so great, so special? 

Remember the year I wanted that Steve Caballero skateboard -- the red one with the black Vision Blur wheels? If you remember, I wrote a letter to you asking only for that, suggesting you get me nothing else, just the board. No clothes, no toys, no candy.

Christmas morning, I opened all kinds of great gifts. I got that really cool RC truck, my favorite candy, all those records, a bunch of Steve Caballero skateboard shirts . . . I got a lot of stuff. But when I was finished opening all my presents, no Steve Caballero skateboard.

I was bummed. I would’ve traded all those gifts, great as they were, for that red Steve Caballero skateboard with the Vision Blur wheels.

Long after the last gift was opened, I was going through the candy in my stocking when Mom asked me to get a rag from the hallway closet to clean a mess my younger brother had made on the coffee table. I moped down the hall to the closet. When I opened the door, the rag was sitting on top of the Steve Caballero skateboard you hid for me. It was the best surprise ever -- un-top-able.

You still always managed to surprise me in different ways each Christmas after. One year, on Christmas Eve, when I thought you weren’t real anymore, my little brother and I lay in bed telling each other all the gifts Mom and Dad had bought us for Christmas. We knew everything we were going to get the next morning. But, magically, you surprised us with other goodies, and I came to believe in you again.

I was especially surprised when I got the Halloween masks you put under the tree for me. Stores had long since stopped carrying them -- it was December, after all. Yet you knew how much I loved Halloween and, being Santa, you found a way to get those masks and other Halloween treats for me. You got me things I didn’t even have on my Christmas list, things I had only mentioned to friends and family way back in the summer.

You got me my favorite candy, Atari games, the exact size clothing for me . . . Christmas was always a perfect fit.

How can my son’s Christmas be as good as all that? No matter how good my son’s Christmas is this year, I know it will never match the greatness of mine.

Christmas is almost here and I guess my boy will get what he gets. He often says, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” He never does throw a fit. He’s such a happy kid. He’ll most likely be as happy as I was as a kid, even if I don’t think his Christmas is as magical as the ones I had.

I told him to write you a letter. He asked for very little. I told him he made a very nice list -- he wasn’t greedy at all. 

“But remember,” I said to him, “Santa Claus can only get you one thing on that list.”

“That’s okay,” he said with a smile. “I’ll be happy even if I got nothing. I just love Christmas.”

Santa, I don’t know how you made my Christmases so great, and I’m not asking you to give my son everything on his list, but I have to ask for one thing he really wants that my wife and I can’t possibly give him. I think it could make this Christmas for him almost as good as the ones you gave me.

He wants to ride in your sleigh and help you pass out gifts. You think you can pull that one off? 

-December 2011

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