A letter to Santa
The North Pole
I am writing to you today not as a hopeful child eager to share their wish list with you. Rather, I am an old woman writing to you for the very first time. I’ve always known about you, galloping through the snowy December skies with your frosted beard, big red belly, booming voice rippling with laughter and a sled full of enchanting gifts that dance through the dreams of sleeping children.
Long ago, I had young children who, like me, never really had the opportunity to know you. Once or twice, I took them to the mall packed with people, going about like robots with their arms full of packages wrapped in shiny paper printed with colourful Christmas images.
A great surprise would await us in the centre of the food court: there you were, larger than life, seated on a throne with big red velour cushions, a regiment of poinsettias standing guard at your feet.
Your thick white beard, white moustache and eyebrows as immaculate as fresh snow jumped out at us in this great mass of red. My daughter tugged on my sleeve and asked who was the gloved woman leaning on your shoulder. My oldest replied it was the Star fairy,* who gives out candy to children.
After waiting in line for nearly an hour in front of your big boots, a candy cane as small as an infant’s pinky was placed in each child’s palm.
Dear Santa, we were poor and unhappy in those days, but seeing you then, presiding on your throne like the King of the Universe, brought us joy. The kids drank hot chocolate with three small marshmallows floating in their creamy bath. It was so wonderful to see their smiles topped with foamy moustaches.
Of course, they clamoured for some fries, a burger, a slice of pizza, any of the usual snacks that the other kids in the neighbourhood enjoyed on outings. I had to promise them some Kraft Dinner, the “real stuff” insisted the oldest, to convince them to leave the mall.
Dear Santa, don’t worry about us anymore. We came through more than okay. The kids finished high school and immediately set to work helping their mom. It turned out that all four of us had talent in the kitchen (goodness knows where it was hiding), especially for morning dishes. And year after year, working with intrepid partners, we built a large chain of breakfast establishments that now spans the entire country. No need to worry about us, dear Santa. My children have created their own families now, and new resilient and brave generations are escaping the karma of their ancestors.
Dear jolly old man, the subject of so many traditions, legends, tales and folklore, this holiday season will be especially sad and hard for people the world over. Way up there at the northern most edge, you have certainly heard about what has occurred here below. Unforgettable things almost too terrible to speak of have been taking place since the start of 2020. Each day, an astounding number of people are attacked by a deadly virus. Hospitals are at the breaking point, healthcare workers exhausted, the elderly imprisoned in their homes, politicians desperate for solutions, workers hidden behind masks and children forced to grow up much too fast.
I live in Canada, dear Santa, a country located in North America, above the equator. More specifically, in the province of Quebec, 4,226.71 km from the North Pole. We are practically neighbours, you could say. May I whisper a little suggestion in your ear? This year, don’t weigh down the sled with big presents. Instead, ask your elves to turn into good fairies that make magical potions. Just imagine, Santa, if millions of little flasks of courage, resilience and love were to fall from the sky. Imagine this shower of hope touching the minds and hearts of all those below.
Each year, millions of children send you letters in the mail that go unanswered, because we all know parents really buy the gifts. This year is different. Our lives have been completely shaken. And we’re in need of miracles to get through it. We need magic, strength, fortitude and determination in order to hold out until enough vaccines arrive and vanquish this invisible villain.
A big, warm hug to you, dearest Santa. And perhaps my 2-year-old great-grandson will nonetheless find a few small toys in his stocking this Christmas?
Psst: In the meantime, dear reader, turn your umbrella upside down and prepare to collect this shower of hope that Santa’s elves will be sending you. Open your windows and your hearts. You’ll hear the rustling of the great forces of the Universe hard at work to save us.
*In French Canadian folklore, the “fée des étoiles,” or Star Fairy, is a beautiful fairy who helps Santa.