Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I do not know what to ask Santa for this year.

Last night my friend Jen said that her daughter had been asking some penetrating questions about Santa and how he operates. I said that I would be happy to act as a resource on this issue, and that she could send Grace to me with any questions.

Jen shot me an insultingly suspicious look and said, "What are you going to tell her? Are you going to tell her Santa is real, or that Santa isn't real?"

"What do you mean?" I asked. "Of course Santa is real. Santa is totally real. What else would I tell her?"

I'm serious about this. Santa Claus lives, and because Santa is magic, any stories we tell about his nature and how he operates in the world must be crude approximations of the truth. That stuff about reindeer and elves got invented by creative types in the 19th century; it is no more or less valid than stories about Father Christmas or St. Nicholas or the Russian Babushka. They are ways for us to explain to ourselves the miracles that happen at the end of every year, as the seasons turn and the world renews itself again. It's why Christians celebrate the birth of our savior at this time of year, although scholars say the historical Jesus was probably born earlier in the fall.

Every year I ask Santa for something -- one thing -- that is important to me, and I have never been disappointed. Sometimes it takes a few years; sometimes I get my wish answered in a way that shows me I asked for something silly, or something I really shouldn't have been wanting. (There was that year I asked for a husband, and got someone else's ... less said about that, the better.) Santa often delivers in unexpected ways, as in the year I asked for a trip to Disney World and got an invitation to a conference there two weeks later.

So I don't know what I'm asking for this year. It's been such an extraordinary year, and I feel so lucky at the moment, that asking for anything more feels impertinent, ungrateful, and like pushing my luck.

I'd like to go to Harrogate next year. If Santa could arrange that, I'd be very grateful.

What are you asking Santa for this year?

Five Random Songs

"Why Wasn't I More Grateful (When Life Was Sweet)," Maria McKee. Yikes -- I'm grateful, I'm grateful!

"The Arcane Model," The Delgados. From The Complete BBC Peel Sessions, a Christmas gift from years past (though not from Santa).

"Can't Get You Out of My Head," Electric Light Orchestra. I will never apologize for liking ELO.

"I've Just Seen a Face," The Beatles. Another song that makes me happy, no matter what else is going on. I used to be able to play it on the guitar. I wish I still had a guitar. Maybe I'll ask Santa.

"Take a Look," Aretha Franklin. Ack, and this song kills me. "Take a look in the mirror/Look at yourself/But don't you look too close/'Cause you might see the person/That you hate the most..."


Laura Benedict said...

I don't even know what to ask my husband for this year! A Kindle would be kind of fun, but I have no desire for us to go into debt so that I can have a new pair of pearl earrings or a new car.

I miss those days when I had long lists of things I saw on television commercials or at friends' houses or in bookstores. Sometimes I worry that I suffer from a distinct lack of consumer desire. I have way, way more than I need and everything I want: a healthy, funny, loving family; a home; two silly dogs; a few good friends and a job that I really enjoy.

If Santa really pressed me about it, I would have to say I wouldn't mind a new book contract. That might take care of the other thing I wouldn't mind having: the chance to remodel our horrible master bath with its giant square of exposed concrete where we had to rip out the damaged Jacuzzi that was hiding a smelly, uncapped sewage pipe! It's the little things....

AnswerGirl said...

Right -- one of the drawbacks of adulthood is that the things you really want seem too big to ask for, which is why you have to ask Santa for these things instead of your friends, significant others, kids, etc.

The Kindle is seriously tempting, but I would feel that I was going over to the dark side. (Although I have to admit I've been to the dark side, and the snacks are really good over there...)

Laura Benedict said...

Pinckney really likes his Kindle and I'm getting used to it. It's great for those books you don't want to make a big commitment to!

norby said...

I have an amazon list, I'm hoping Santa has made the jump to the internet...

Kevin Wignall said...

Funny, as I was reading this I was thinking, "well, you could always ask him to get you to Harrogate"... and then you go and say just that.

I can't tell you what I'm asking for - I thought these things were meant to be secret?

AnswerGirl said...

Santa moves among us in disguise. He can't do his job if you keep your wishes secret.

Anonymous said...

WOW--I'd never heard of Kindle until I just read your blog! I LOVE the 21st century, this thing is amazing! I could actually get my PEOPLE Mag. before the couples in the weddings issue got divorced. I'm sooo tempted.

Oh, and Harrogate looks great, too. I'd go just for the cool hotels.

Feel free to stop by for a visit in July 09.

Fabulous blog entry today--thanks!

AnswerGirl said...

I'm amazed that you didn't know about the Kindle, Sue -- I'd expect you to be first in line for one!

And yes, I think I'd use it more for newspapers and magazines than for books; I gave up my New Yorker subscription years ago because I couldn't keep up with it.

But it would also be handy for traveling, and would have spared me bringing 20 books to NY with me this past September.

Karen Olson said...

Would love a Kindle. And a recurring book contract. But I suppose the first would be easier to come by...