By Carol Stark
I almost didn’t write you a letter this year. It is the first time in my life that I considered putting Christmas on the shelf.
As a longtime newspaper reader, I’m sure you know what has me and every other person I know so miserable this year. It’s hard to ask for gifts from you when the good people of Newtown, Conn., are crying over the terrible loss of their loved ones — many of whom were children. The world indeed seems such a wicked place — or at least that’s the way I felt a week ago.
So, I’m sorry this letter is so last minute, Santa, but please hear me out because I’ve dramatically changed my mind about Christmas this year.
Bring it on, Santa. Heap the sleigh high with peace and joy and certainly lots and lots of goodwill. We need Christmas now more than ever. I was wrong about the world going to hell in a hand basket. In the past week, I’ve talked with so many people who are trying their darnedest to make life better for others. They deserve a package of pats on the back and boxes of encouragement. They are going to need it as they fight the good fight.
Our children and grandchildren need us to sit close with them around the Christmas tree two days from now, hugging them, talking to them and reinforcing the message of the day.
So, Santa, now that you know I’ve got my head on straight, here are a few requests. By the way, take care as you travel over Washington, D.C., so as to avoid that fiscal cliff. Maybe someone will do something about that before Christmas.
I bought a little book for one of my grandsons about making good choices. I can think of lots of the leaders in this country who could sure use a book like this. Throw in some crayons, as a few of them act more like children than grownups when it comes to having intelligent discussions.
We said goodbye to the AmeriCorps team on Friday. They helped organize more than 157,000 volunteers after Joplin’s May 22, 2011, tornado. All told, volunteers have put in nearly a million hours of labor in our town. And even though AmeriCorps has other places it needs to go, there are still volunteers who continue to work. A back rub and a foot soak for all of them.
Could you make Tom Cruise taller for Christmas, Santa? Just a little selfish request on my part, but I know I would enjoy the movie “Jack Reacher” so much more with a character who is 6 feet 5 inches tall as his creator Lee Child intended him. (If I scrunch down in my seat way low and look up at the screen, maybe Cruise will look less like he was starring in “The Hobbit.”)
I’ve enjoyed reading about all the Christmases over the decades in our annual Globe holiday series. Who knew that people valued an orange in their stocking so much? So load up the citrus, Santa. Maybe a few simple gifts would humble us. If you run into my dad as you pass through the universe on Christmas Eve, toss him an orange and a fountain pen and give him a wink. He’ll laugh and maybe tell you the story about the Christmas when that was all you brought him. It was one of his favorite stories. I will miss hearing it this year.
I don’t know if anyone ever asks you for a few inches of rain, but put me on the list for that, Santa. Would love to actually be able to use my rain gauge.
And, I know a lot of others who are hoping for green pastures, full rivers and bountiful gardens this summer.
Santa, there are a few more chimneys in Joplin this year thanks to organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan’s Purse and Catholic Charities. You might need to reset your sled’s map because those families are going to be watching for you out the windows of their new homes.
Please be generous, they have waited so long to be back into a home.
May the lights of the stars guide your sleigh as you deliver the joy of the season.
Yes, Santa, we definitely need a little Christmas.
Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to her, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.