Last night, I read a "comical" child's letter to Santa: beginning with the usual "I've been good this year..." it goes on to ask how come he asked for a train set, a pony and a few other trad toys, but only got a yo-yo and a pair of sox. He then degenerates into obscenity, blasphemy, and scatology, in that order.
I didn't like it.
OK, the first couple of times you read something cynical about Santa, you feel liberated. But after a while... I thought about a woman who used to haunt the Used Book Exchange, looking for collectible childrens' books she could sell, always sobbing that my rubber stamping them "Not for Resale" was 'breaking her dear granddaughter's little heart' since she so wanted these books for her (always nonspecified) Nth birthday. So this is my answer.
15 December 2007
Dear 'Little' Johnnie:
I can only surmise from your precocious use of expletives that the letter you wrote last year was written by your father, who wished to sell those toys you 'asked' for on eBay.
Yes, Mr. Smith, I am on to you. Your son, John, never wanted that 'vintage HO train with full landscape set and MIT-TMRC switching', nor the Shetland pony, nor the Cannondale bicycle. He did, however, ask for the starter set of LEGOs that you promised him three years ago, a pair of Converse hi-tops, and for you and your wife to stop fighting. Your daughter, Jane, never asked for the "original first edition Alice in Wonderland" -- she would much prefer the facsimile Dover edition of "Alice's Adventures Under Ground" especially since she's keenly interested in the mathematical aspects, and would like a clean copy she could annotate. She's also uninterested in the "collectible edition 'Solo in the Spotlight' Barbie" you demanded that she demand -- she wished for a Gloria Vanderbilt soft doll (from her crafts book), since she was interested in fashion design. She would also like you to stop fighting, and to undergo drug rehabilitation, preferably before New Year's --"you know how he gets."
Since you live in the United States, you are out of my jurisdiction as far as my more, athem, punitive powers go, particularly regarding adults. Count yourself lucky -- not only do you escape humiliation in the form of a publiclly given gift hidden inside a large plaster-of-Paris 'rock of crack' wrapped in a large clear Baggie, but you also don't have to read this letter in badly rhymed Dutch. However, I wish to continue coming to your home, I find your actual children delightful, and have no wish to see them go without the gifts due them.
So, I propose a solution. You will forthwith, check yourself into detox, and ask for marital counselling. Your son will recieve a fine bicycle from Target appropriate to his age and neighborhood, a gift set of LEGOs directly from Denmark, Converse sneakers, and a coaching session for his team with Pat Riley. Your daughter will recieve "Alice Under Ground" as per request, along with "The Annotated Alice" autographed specifically to her by Martin Gardner. The Gloria Vanderbilt doll presents some problem: unlike the china version, the soft toy was never in mass production, but was made by the designer herself to give to friends. However, being an honorary New Yorker with a long history in shall we say, the shipping business, I have known her family for some time, and we have agreed for her to release a copy of her personal pattern to the Workshop's new artisanal division. It will be ready by Valentine's Day with a note from the designer at FIT who sewed it -- we hope that their correspondance will continue. I will also include, with these gifts, a Froebel kindergarten set and baby clothes -- your wife will tell you why.
Please understand that all these gifts are strongly enchanted, and any attempt to sell or transfer them will render them worthless. I wish I could write longer, but I've just finished my tour of the Low Countries (and former colonies), and am gearing up for the big push. Comply, and your children will forgive you, otherwise...prepare to explain to the neighbors why you chose to display a large rose encased in a transparent tube with cork and foil on it on your lawn.
Yours sincerely, Nicholas, Bishop of Smyrna.
P.S. Please tell your children that elves come in all shapes and sizes, and they're both right: yes, we do have one fellow who looks a great deal like like Will Farrell, and one who does look like Orlando Bloom, but unfortunately, for your daughter, he's married.