Look, I know this is absurd, a grown woman writing a letter to Santa.
But ridiculous is kind of what I do.
And here’s the thing: I believe in you.
When you are in the picture at this time of year, people are more likely to be kind. Caring, giving. Generous, even. (Battle lines at big-box stores excepted, of course).
Magical things happen. They do.
It snows magic Christmas snow when the weather nerds insist none is in the forecast.
Packages and invitations turn up unexpectedly, from friends you didn’t know were thinking of you.
Customer service people actually provide service.
I confess I was going to write a tearjerker of a letter, asking you to send us a new man.
Because we could use some company.
My daughter is feeling our two-of-us-that-used-to-be-three-of-us, hard.
She misses her Dad, a lot.
So do I.
I miss the way he danced (very goofy.) I miss the way he used to peek around the door of her room when we were sitting together at bedtime.
I miss us sitting in companionable silence, each reading our own books, pausing to identify and then listen intently to, whatever selection was playing on our beloved classical music radio station.
So I was going to ask you, Santa, for a little help, finding a new man for us. A little help, here?
But I changed my mind because of a few intervening events that put things in perspective since I started writing this letter:
Sophie cat became “Sophie the Christmas Miracle Cat.”
She had suddenly lost the use of her back leg.
Vet said prognosis dire. Probably blood clot.
Might have to say good-bye.
Oh, shit, at Christmas?
But Sophie the Christmas Miracle Cat, being, shall we say, un-enamored of said vet (who is a really nice lady, but Sophie sees her and thinks, “shot! run!”) managed to drag herself upstairs, do a pull-up with her front claws (and this cat weighs at least 15 pounds) onto my bed, and make herself well.
Meaning she somehow managed to dissolve the clot, regain use of her left hind leg, and after climbing up and being carried back down twice (for food, and, erm, other necessities) she got down herself the third time, limping a little, but by the next meal was walking along just fine, asking for her next meal, as usual.
Then, just as we were preparing for our annual ladies’ holiday excursion downtown, I happened to go into the basement utility room (OCD, just wanted to check and make sure the previous night’s fireplace ashes hadn’t done something weird and dangerous while encased in masonry behind an iron door in the ash box – you know, the usual, rational concern) I noticed the boiler was leaking. A lot. And not from a pressure release valve – from underneath.
Call heat guy, who luckily lives pretty close by.
Sorry, ma’am, you’re going to need a new boiler.
THAT much? Oh, my God!
Try to retain calm during ladies’ annual downtown excursion, while also seeking bids from two other heat guys.
Enjoy lovely excursion, including breathtaking, moving and lovely performance of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theater. Wow. Stunning.
But while walking along The Magnificent Mile, between the Disney store and American Girl Place, among the expensively dressed, happy holiday crowd, we passed many, many homeless people.
Every three feet, there was another person, huddled in filthy blankets, head bowed, cardboard sign propped against their knees, or wheelchair, or walker, plastic cup standing, hoping, for something. Just a little something.
I gave the only dollar I had, because I don’t really carry cash anymore, to a person who was propped up with a walker, legs trembling, speech impaired, seemingly brain-injured and desperate.
And turned to continue our walk past the next homeless person, and the next, and the next.
Overwhelming need, smack in the middle of the swankiest part of town.
I have never been so grateful to come home to an unheated house in my life.
Yesterday, I washed my hair with water heated on the stove, and was warmed by the hair dryer, before we headed off to church.
My dear brother brought over two space heaters.
We attended a last-minute, lovely, holiday party at the home of a family who have been exceptionally kind to us, especially my angelic, autistic daughter, who loves them, as they have come to love her.
I watched her make conversation with other guests without my cueing or help, or presence, really, beaming, like the lovely young adult she is, heart full of joy.
Today I’ll make our traditional Christmas Eve clam chowder and cornbread, to be consumed after church, and then, we’ll put on our warm jammies, make a fire in the fireplace and we’ll make s’mores.
Camping! Pioneer ladies!
I have no heat and no hot water, Santa, and I won’t until Wednesday, when the first heat guys who came, whose heart-stopping bid was actually substantially lower than the next guy’s, will install a new boiler.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Because today, we have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, two space heaters and enough blankets, hats, sweaters and sweatshirts to get us through to Wednesday.
Three years ago, our first Christmas without Mike, I burned the cranberry sauce for the first time in my life. I’ve been making it since I was twelve. I think that happened because of sadness, distraction and depression.
I burned it again, just now, for only the second time in my life.
Because I was distracted by writing a blog post about gratitude.
I’d call that progress.
So Santa, don’t worry about us Please direct your attention to those truly in need, and we’ll try to figure out something we can do in our own small way. (But maybe could you save a package of cranberries for us at the local market for when we do our shopping after lessons and carols? They were out by this day last year).
Thanks for listening.
God bless us, every one.
See you next year.
Until then, I remain,
Your grateful, silly, burned-the-cranberries-but-thankfully-not-the-house-because-I-was-distracted-by-gratitude,