This letter is probably a couple of weeks too late, but I thought I’d try my luck anyway. If you remember, there were a few years when I was a child that I lost track of time and sent out my letter to the North Pole way past the deadline. Mommy always threatened me with a bare Christmas Tree if I didn’t get my wish list out before December.
In any case, this is an appeal to you to add all the children, youth and young at heart to your list this Christmas. 2021 has been such a difficult and disappointing year for so many, with droves of people losing their jobs, homes, families, civil liberties, constitutional freedoms, health, steady incomes, customers, friends, loved ones, and even neighbours. The news networks have no reports on the current COVID-19 or Omicron situation in the North Pole and how this has affected the Elf workforce, but I am guessing you have not remained unaffected. So you probably know what it means to face retrenchment, downsizing, corporate restructuring, and darn it, probably Management-by-Zoom as well.
Let me give it to you straight Santa. You and I know that your magical business plan was screwed seven shades of Christmastimes the moment Amazon and all the other online shopping platforms went live almost two decades ago, effectively causing irreparable damage to your customer base. Hey, at least you didn’t mass fire anyone via video conference, and I’m sure the Elf Union appreciates this. (NB: are you up to speed on those Elvish retirement benefits?) Sadly, it’s far easier to create a wishlist on Amazon than to actually sit down with a piece of paper and pen to write (gasp) an honest to goodness letter to you. I mean, your email isn’t even public domain, so it’s not as if we can flag a priority message to you either. How to you even cope with all the virtual reality Santas on the net who keep spreading all that fake information? How do you deal with stalkers and cyberbullies, not to mention all the clickbait (mis)using your name? Do you refer them to The Grinch Department of Torts and Damages?
It must be painful to have to fight for your own identity at time when the belief in magic is fading faster than we can figure out how to preserve it. Rest assured, however, that there are still those of us who grew up writing letters to you, asking for almost the impossible. We are the last generation to have passed on the magic of Santa to our children, many of whom are parents now and are in two minds about whether to raise their child to believe in the words and actions of an old man they will automatically tag as stranger danger, who wants to enter your home in the middle of the night, sneak around the living room and peak into everyone’s bedroom. Getting some serious Criminal Minds vibes here instead of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas… I get it, if we can no longer trust the priests, bishops and even cardinals in many parts of the world, how on earth are we supposed to cling to magic when everything around us demand we be extra vigilant about the unseen enemy and threat to our lives?
We are being told and forced to believe that the little ampules of vaccines are the new magic now, but that is just not true. Magic cannot be bought, booked or injected. It demands blind faith, hope and love, all of which are excruciatingly absent this year. Domestic violence and unemployment are up, as are psychiatric breakdowns, chronic fatigue, and depression. The world is frustrated, angered, desperate for a solution, and so pissed at you Santa, because you are not delivering the magic fast enough – and it’s not even Christmas Eve yet! The governments can’t seem to deliver, so that leaves you, the Three Kings and the Easter Bunny as back-up plans. Don’t make me send and SOS to The Great Pumpkin next year!
So here’s an idea: instead of filling our stockings with anything and everything we already earmarked on Amazon et al, how about you sell us a brand new Christmas Stocking, the 2021. This is a high tech stocking (hey, you have to roll with the times don’t you?), and please don’t fill it with iWatches, iPhones, iPads or iMacs this year, not even new Nikon mirrorless cameras or the latest Leica. You can ditch all the shoes, shawls, ties and candy as well. If Cookie Monster on Sesame Street is no longer allowed to eat cookies, then you should, in all good conscience, withhold the candy canes, pies, fudge bars, and puddings. Instead, let the 2021 Christmas Stocking be made of emotionally intelligent soul fibres trimmed with common sense and jazzed up with sparkling touches of decorum, finesse and imagination. As for the fillings, go wild on all manner of creativity, random acts of kindness, generosity, good neighbourliness, sharing, and community. It’s been a rough two years on students and families, so please add family-sized doses of patience, self-esteem, affection, and effective communication.
Most importantly, Santa, we need cartons filled with hope and inspiration, to appreciate the intangible gifts of love, friendship, and faith. Everything and everyone has a price and a limit now, even an expiration date, whether it is a work contract, a business arrangement, a living condition, or even shelf life. We live in a world where disposable and dispensable are the name of the game, the horrible new normal, customer service is sought out over community service or volunteer work, terms and conditions over unconditional. It is no wonder that we feel depleted, angry, aggressive, abusive, and desire nothing more than scapegoats to lash out on.
Having said all that, let me summarise my wish list this year that :
And if you remember my closing words in all my childhood letters to you,
If it’s not too much of a bother, and you still have time to find it,
To borrow the words of Francis Church from his 1897 editorial, Yes. Virginia, there really is a Santa. And I’m counting on you.
Don’t forget to wear your FFP2 mask, get your booster shot, and observe all the quarantine travel regulations, and that applies to Rudolph’s team as well! After all, we are dealing with aerosol virus…