Transcribed from the original…

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, December 15, 2013

Transcribed from the original letter, dated December 13, 2013.

Dear Michelle,

True, true, I don’t generally reply to letters. And I’ll admit it was the missus who suggested I make an exception – not because you’re particularly needy, or worthy, or unique, my dear, but because I know I can count on you to type it up and send it to your local newspaper for publication. Right?

You might mention how good my handwriting actually is, even to this day. I take my time with it, use fountain pens and such. A graphologist would say the big loops prove I’m of a philosophical bent, which is correct except when dealing with the reindeer, then it’s just a lot of discipline and shouting and sometimes even my swatting a broom at them. Blitzen drives me nuts most days: he’s fast but he can be careless and a bit vain. Plus, the flying, because it’s an act of will, has to be relearned every year; I simply cannot explain the subtleties and challenges of this.


My devoted wife also wanted me to tell you – just so you know it’s really me —  that that recipe you’ve been looking for, for the snickerdoodle cookies your mother used to make is in the old wooden recipe box about halfway in, mistakenly filed under Appetizers, right next to the cream puffs with blue cheese. People sure did love those cream puffs, didn’t they. Anyway, the wife says you could find the same exact snickerdoodle recipe online and that the Betty Crocker version is what Millie Standish gave your mother in 1964.

In re-reading the letters you’ve written these past few years, it occurs to me that maybe you don’t realize how many adults actually do write to me. I don’t think many people realize. In fact, these are the most poignant letters of all, adults writing to Santa. It would break your heart to read them – or crack it wide open.

Now, I’m not talking the kind of people who would enroll is a workshop to learn to write a good letter to Santa Claus — people wanting to get in touch with their inner child, or their sense of wide-eyed belief, or wanting to un-calcify their imaginations. People, in other words, who metaphorically never learned to crawl and now want to go back, get down on their baby knees, and unfetter themselves enough to write me a letter.

No, the letters I’m really talking about are from the people in dire need — who have nothing to lose by writing to an old man in a red suit who cares more about children than anything else on the planet. These are the people, and there are plenty of them, who, for whatever reason, have surrendered, gone far beyond the point of anger and resentment and bitterness and are simply asking with a sort of scrubbed-down and naked sincerity: Help me. Help me get me through this. Help me carry on, sleep at night. Help me breathe.

They are the ones asking for spontaneous remissions for their children, for their marriages to survive, for messages from the dead. For loneliness to end, for hope, for a safe port in whatever dark, roiling, and lashing storm is working them to the bone. Without saying so much, they are asking to believe in tomorrow, to be present when the sun blazingly rises and shines one more time and hits them square in the face.

Mostly, they write in private, you know. They send letters without signatures or addresses – as if I didn’t know who was writing and where they were from. But the fact is they’re writing from a place where everyone is the same, where everyone is one person, and every voice of need is all of ours.

So for all you adults out there who have a hard time with the holidays because you feel cynical, or lost, or confused, or dead tired, I’d like to say a couple things: One is to keep writing me, whether the postmark is Esalen Institute or East LA, because it’s a good practice. The other is hold fast to life and not give up. To make room for healing and to take responsibility for whatever light – big or small — we can shine.

Rudolph wants me to add sometimes we shine where least expected and the light may be red. Ho, ho, ho!  Good one, Rudy!

In closing, Merry Christmas. Especially to all the adults out there who need me most: you know who you are–


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