The truth is that I haven't been especially good this year. I don't think I've been especially bad — nowhere near as bad as a few years in the '80s, about which the less said the better — but not deserving of anything much from Santa.
I do often ask Santa for one thing I really want, and a startling amount of the time, Santa comes through in unexpected ways. This year, though, there's nothing I long for with my whole heart — just a few things I'd like to have, if I won the lottery or Santa had extra room on the sled.
1. A more practical car. My faithful Blueberrymobile has been with me for 10 years now, through crashes and breakdowns and well over 100,000 miles. I'd miss it forever, but it has never been a practical car for Maine, and I worry that it is coming to the end of its useful life. At the moment my mechanic and I suspect it has a slow leak in the radiator, which may be the last straw — except that I can't possibly afford to buy a new car. Something, says Mr. Micawber, is bound to turn up.
2. Decent health insurance I can afford. Every self-employed person I know would like this for Christmas. And hey, if Santa's feeling extra generous, what about dental?
3. A real sofa. I have an old loveseat, big enough only for Dizzy and me. It doesn't convert to a bed. It was never that attractive to begin with, and it's starting to get very shabby. I need to buy a slipcover, or just replace it altogether. The problem is, I'm not sure what will fit into my apartment.
4. A DVR. I know I'm the last person in America without one. I could and should upgrade my cable after the first of the year. In the meantime, though, I'm missing tonight's "Dr. Who" special on BBC America. Could someone I'm going to see over the holidays please record it for me?
5. The cost of next year's Bouchercon. It's in San Francisco in October: the most expensive city in the United States, at the most expensive time of year to visit. I've said I'll go, I've even volunteered to put something together for the program, but I am going to have to sell someone else's small child to do it. Or maybe an elf. Santa?
What are you asking Santa for this year? Leave your wishes in the comments section.