Lists for Santa

My mother assured me I would be Santa’s six-year-old helper if I carried gift-wrapped boxes from her bedroom to the tree in the living room. She forestalled any childish questions by saying Santa magically filled the gift-wrapped packages with presents when he came Christmas eve.
I believed her.
In recent years, I have helped Santa at the News-Times.
I receive envelopes addressed to Santa in pencil, crayon or felt tip marker. Some have stamps – real or drawn on the envelope – others are unstamped.
Handwriting scrawled off the edge of the envelopes converting Santa into a clause instead of a Claus. Geography was a bit confused: one letter was sent to the North Pole in Antarctica instead the Arctic Circle. I was charmed with the Christmas card sent to Santa asking for nothing. It was addressed in unsteady letters “from cody to Santa.”
One child could only scribble. However in legible handwriting, around the scribbles, her momma wrote, “Hannah has been a very good girl.
Please get her something special … love, Hannah.”
One child knew what would be really special: “Please make it snow.”
Older children know that Santa checks on their behavior to ensure he only gives good little boys and girls gifts for Christmas. The honor system reigned – sort of:
“I have been a good girl, so this is what I want…”
“Even though I probably have been a bad girl this year, I only want one thing for Christmas …”
“I have been a bad boy, but you can get me …” The child’s list included 12 rather expensive items.
“Even though I’ve been a bad girl, I still want something for Christmas … ” was followed by a lengthy list which included a drumset with microphones. The letter concluded, “And this is for everyone: I wish you peace.” With a drumset AND a microphone everyone in the neighborhood will need some peace.
Or shades of the persistent beggar: “Do you know what I have on my list? Yes, you know because you have my list. I wrote three letters.”
Sometimes the wish for a specific gift was achingly poignant, “All I want for Christmas is a 1. GameBoy Advance 2. computer 3. puppy.
That’s all I want for Christmas this year. If you can’t find a puppy I understand completely. My mom keeps telling me it would get run over.
And you don’t have to get me a GameBoy Advance.”
In the midst of denying how badly a puppy was wanted, did the author forget about asking for a computer – or was that what the child really wanted?
The spirit of Christmas reigned in some: “Will you please bring my Daddy a new tool box and my Moma a new watch. I don’t know what my Mamaw needs, but my Granny needs a new nightshirt.”
There are still a few children who remember their manners and send greetings to the reindeers, the elves and Mrs. Claus. But I wonder, was it manners or a bribe when the child wrote Santa, “I have cookies and milk”
Whichever it was, I remember that the cookies I left out as a six year-old were gone the next morning and I had lots of gifts inside those wrapped boxes. So Santa really did come … unless … nahh, Santa doesn’t need anyone to help him eat his cookies.