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I’ve got Santa on my mind

First of all I want to say, with all the humility and grace I can muster, we are WAY cooler than you are. We got a box filled with A TON of chocolate from Germany today.

Insert insane jealousy here

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. I’ve got the mother of all sugar highs going. The kids are only sleeping because they rocketed right past sugar high to sugar coma.

The issue of Santa came up today, or this evening I should say. Today I was embroiled in the mother of all court days. Who woulda thunk EVERYONE would show for a docket on the eve of (government observed) Christmas? It was one of those days when you don’t see the sun. Maybe that’s not saying much if you live in close proximity to one of the poles, but in subtropical Florida it’s a 10+ hour ordeal, filled with people on both sides of the Petition unhappy with the Final Judgement.

But enough about the legal system, this was supposed to be a post about youth, wonder, and the Christmas way. No, I’m not talking about virgin births or babies on the run from the law. I’m talking about his Jolliness, St Nick. (He lets me call him Nick because we go way back.)

Every now and then my wife asks the tough questions… why don’t you shave more often, what’s that God awful smell, etc. Tonight she asked me if I believed in Santa Claus when I was a kid. Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t remember believing. I know my parents never made a big deal about Santa. My parents weren’t Big Deal kind of people. Some people would come up to us and ask, “Are you excited about Santa coming this week?!?” Even as a kid I remember thinking there was a thick layer of saccharine on that enthusiasm. Now, I admit I had no idea what saccharine was, but I had an acute sense for it (if that makes any sense). If there was an opposite for the saccharine afflicted, it was my parents. They made half-hearted attempts at gifts from Santa, but we caught on pretty early it was no coincidence Santa used the same wrapping paper as mom and dad, not to mention he had the exact same handwriting. If you’d seen my dad’s handwriting, a polite way of describing it would be “unique.”

This brought on a mini-debate between me and my wife. I won of course. I may be sleeping on the couch, but sometimes that’s the price for victory. Did we lose something essential to childhood? Does Santa worship foster a sense of wonder, magic, and creativity that’s unrivaled in child development? I can’t say, but I pose this counter argument: when a child does learn there is no Santa – and we all know where we were when we learned there was no Santa (well, I guess I don’t, but don’t let that ruin a perfectly good point) – does he or she feel betrayed by their parents? Think of the YEARS of deception and outright lying. How does this affect the child/parent relationship? Does it poison the well? Are kids who believe in Santa more likely to grow up to be rebellious, delinquents, or worse: Wall Street Bankers?

I have to say I’m undecided on this one. I don’t discourage others (including my wife) from perpetuating the lie. I’m ashamed to admit that once, on cross-examination by my relentless, then three year old daughter, I did not dispute the existence of Santa. She was concerned about the physics behind Santa and his achievements, growing more skeptical without quite crossing over to Santa denial, but I remained silent. However, at the time my silence was interpreted as acknowledgment – and I let it happen. My pants were stuck on the ideological fence, and it didn’t help the frakking thing was chain link.

The seeds of doubt sprouted early with Beth, but Adam’s still going strong at six. I can’t help but wonder what he’ll think of us when he knows the truth about society’s Santa Conspiracy Machine. Will he ever trust us again? Once again I’m feeling pretty awkward astride that chain link. It’s a vulnerable position for a father with a bad sense of balance.

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Letter from Santa

Here’s another post you can blame Cheryl for, at least in part. Every year we have a Secret Santa gift exchange at work, much like may of you (probably). For the last ten years (give or take a few) I’ve included some kind of letter with my gift. It’s been my schtick, my thing.

Cheryl thought I should post this year’s letter, in part because we didn’t send out Christmas cards this year (nor last year), but also because this year’s letter was a little different – a little irreverent. Any-hoo, here it is (sans proper layout and letterhead):

The Shop
1 Santa’s Way
North Pole, Antarctica 99999
Tel: 1 990 999-IMSANTA
Fax: 1 990 999-IM4XMAS

December 17, 2009

Dear —–,

Do you mind if I call you —–? Who am I kidding? I’m Santa. I could call you Mickey if I wanted to.

I shouldn’t have said that, I’m sorry. My temper has been short lately with all the changes going on at The Shop. I know you have your own problems to worry about, but ‘ole Santa doesn’t have many folks he can talk too… you know, let off a little steam. I’ve been watching you – but you knew that already. I watch everyone. You’re the sort I figure an old fart like me can confide in… that and I wanted to explain your gift this year. Please don’t tell Ms. Claus. She’s already mad at me over some damn fool thing that happened during the Lego shortage back in ’38.

You see —-, Santa’s tired. The damn elves got organized, started themselves a union, and the fit has really hit the shan, if you get my drift. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Donald Fehr – the former MLB Players Association director – he didn’t retire like you all think he did. He’s working for the elves now.

It doesn’t take a large animal veteranarian to figure out which list he’s on.

Apparently the elves weren’t happy with the ice problems at the old North Pole complex. You know, the thinning everyone’s been talking about. So Fehr gets involved and the next thing you know I’ve got a strike on my hands, right in the middle of build season – demanding a new shop location. Me and the Mrs scouted new locations, but we found almost nothing but trouble. Greenland, goaded on by the Danes, wanted too much in kickbacks, the taxes in Norway were insane, Canada couldn’t come to an agreement with the First Nations groups in their northern territories, and I wouldn’t trust that Putin fella any further than Blitzen could kick him.

So we started thinking out of the box and thought of just the place – a place with plenty of space and no governing body – the south pole. A little razzle-dazzle at the UN and a new settlement was established: North Pole, Antarctica. (I’ll be damned if I’m gonna give up my brand.)

But have you ever moved across the world? It ain’t no picnic.

Then there’s the economy. I had to lay off 20% of my staff. Even with the bad blood surrounding the strike and forced relocation of the shop, it killed me to let some of my elves go. Do you know what the job market is like for an unemployed elf?

Anyway, between the economy and the reduced staff we had to make some drastic changes – take some shortcuts – which explains your gift: a gift card. The production cost of those little, rectangular lifesavers is next to nothing.

So that’s it. I’m sorry I was so negative this year, but it’s been hard to get into the spirit of Christmas, even for Jolly Saint Nick. We’re all human (well, mostly).

I hope you like the card. Get something nice for you and the misses.

All the best to you and your’s this Christmas,
Saint Nicholas – Sinterklaas – Santa

P.S. Could you do me a favor? Quit picking on my boy’s beard. You know who I’m talking about. Don’t make me send Donner up there to set things straight. He’s got a mean streak in him you wouldn’t believe.