I know you’re going to be shocked at receiving a letter from a grown woman, especially since I haven’t written you since I was seven or eight years old, and that’s been at least twenty years ago. Would you believe thirty years? But I have a lot on my mind tonight, Santa. First of all, I would like to thank you. Don’t think I ever wrote you a thank-you letter before—ever. I’d like to thank you for all the wonderful memories of past Christmases: Remember how each member of my family put out one of our shoes to be filled? There was my dad’s work shoe, scuffed but cleans, slightly run over, very worn, but standing firm with dignity beside my mother’s small, dainty but serviceable pump; my sister’s much smaller shoe, full of fun yet standing protectively beside my sturdy and naïve shoe, knotted shoelaces dragging.
And whatever happened to the endless miles of construction paper chains we made to decorate the Christmas tree that we cut from our farm? On Christmas morning, each shoe held a big, shiny orange, as big as the harvest moon when it first comes up, (and sweeter than any orange produced now, I’m sure), a couple of English walnuts (I remember trying to open them without breaking the perfect half shells), and perhaps some old-fashioned chocolate drops.
I remember Mary Jane, the last you brought me, the most beautiful china doll every made. She sits in my closet now, awaiting the little girl visitors who rock her in the same small oak rocker that still sits in my living room, ready and waiting. And the Christmas when you brought ten-year-old me a sled with red runners. After dinner my boy cousins and I spent the afternoon sliding down the hill in the north pasture.
But Santa, I want to turn to the “want list” of my grown-up self. I can’t worry about yesterday; it’s today and tomorrow that concern me. I want, first of all, to grow older—not old, if you please—but older. And there is a difference. I like his business of living, and any time I don’t grow older, I am no more, and I have so much yet to do. There are places I want to go, things I want to do, and people I want to see. So please, Santa, would you bring me the king-sized, giant, stupendous economy size of time?
I would like to have more time with my family, my friends, my acquaintances and my little old dog. If it’s possible, Santa, please tuck in a few small bags of instant time so I can use one when I have just opened my oven door. Perhaps then I wouldn’t burn my fingers.
There was a time when I had nothing but time on my hands and a cast on one leg. Everyone was kind to me, and one person in particular stopped by or called every day. Later, when I could walk well, I always intended to walk to his house and show him how well I was doing. But I didn’t take the time. I put it off. He’s not there anymore. He died suddenly and I’m sorry he never got to see me walk.
And that reminds me, Santa, of something I don’t want you to bring me this year. Remember that bulky, ugly, dirty, battered box that I keep moving from one area to another but never get rid of? It’s filled with procrastination, and believe me, it must be a lifetime supply. Each time I take some out, it fills up again. I really didn’t want it when I got it, and you’d think I’d get rid of it, but it’s like sticky fly paper or unraveled Scotch tape. It’s always there. I try not to use it, but I’ve still got it. So if it’s okay with you, Santa, please, no more procrastination.
I would like a new pair of glasses, though. Now I know these lenses are not that old. But what I want is a special kid of lens. I need one lens to be near-sighted so I will overlook items like the broken compote lid. After all, it was only a broken dish, not a broken heart. And the dirt tracked in on a freshly mopped floor, and when the messy bathroom, and when the morning paper is all dismantled and I’ve not read the women’s page yet. You know, Santa, trivial things like that. Now the other lens needs to be far-sighted so that I can look beyond the surface of things and of people so that I can really see and understand.
And that makes me think of something else I’d like to have, Santa: a red velvet box of understanding tied with a big bow of knowledge. I’m hoping you won’t think I’m selfish if I ask you to bring me the very largest available. I know I could use it, and I save bows.
I’d like several cartons of kindness. It often comes in tiny packages, tied up with a smile. I don’t want to keep these for myself, but I’d like to have them ready to give away daily.
Say, Santa, do you have any of those round packages of awareness? The packages are round so that Awareness is intact, nothing bent out of shape or proportion. I’ve had them before and really enjoy them. I like being aware of the stars at night, the birds outside my kitchen window, the first snowfall, grape jelly when I’ve made a successful batch, rows of freshly baked cookies on the counter, athletic equipment in our basement, the first pussy willows, tattered tennis shoes, a bridge hand with opening count.
I like being aware of the muted sound of a snow shovel, a car turning in the driveway and crunching in the gravel, perking of coffee, door chimes, Caterpillar tractors, the clunk of the mailbox lid closing, the yell of “Anybody home?”
I like being aware of the scent of evergreens, fresh coffee, cinnamon in apple crisp, aftershave lotion, freshly turned earth, clean clothes dried outdoors, sweet clover.
I like being aware of the taste of hot buttered toast, garlic black bread, hot strong coffee, peppermint stick candy, hamburgers, milk, hot corned beef sandwiches with mustard, cool water, chocolate cake.
I like being aware of the feel of rough tweed, my dog’s curly coat, a firm handclasp, warm, freshly ironed clothes, smooth cool sheets, a bubble bath, the steering wheel of the car, clean hair, a kiss from someone I love. Say, Santa, why don’t you bring me several packages of awareness?
And, Santa, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could find a way to package peace, brotherhood and good health, making certain that everyone received a package, opened it and used it? We would really have it made, wouldn’t we?
Well, Santa, I’ve just about run out of paper. There’s so much I want to say, and after I’ve sent this letter, I’ll probably discover so many important things left unsaid.
Do hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and that everyone else does, too. Christmas is really a do-it-yourself kit, isn’t it? For Christmas happens only in the heart.