COLUMN: An open letter to Santa Claus

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to CacheValleyDaily.com. His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

Dear Santa,

This is Harry Caines. I have not attempted to contact you since I was 9 years old. That time, I asked you for an Atari 2600 and you graciously complied. I spent countless hours staring at my television screen playing Space Invaders and Adventure…which undoubtedly turned me into the ambitious, go-getter I am today.

You would think that my record-breaking scores in Missile Command would have been the gateway to my destined profession of being that guy who presses the button that drops drones on suspected jihadists in Pakistan; or, the guy who drops an Amazon.com drone on people’s doorstep with the “Amish Mafia” complete DVD set. Alas, that did not happen.

But that is the ancient past. It is coming up on Christmas, 2014. Times have changed. I assume you have a room full of statisticians who prepare algorithms to help you make your list of naughty and nice children. No doubt you look for patterns to determine key demographics when planning your annual sojourn to every single house located in the vastness of our blue orb.

That leads me to ask why I am scribing a letter to you this day. There are a few questions and comments I wish to convey to you about the world and your place in it. I hope to maintain a level of civility and respect towards you, lest I become that creepy guy who wrote a letter to Eminem in his song, “Stan”.

My first question might sound combative, but it is profoundly sincere. Are you still relevant? Not to be intentionally churlish, but many children are computer savvy. My youngest child, who turns 12 in two weeks, does not need to ask you for gifts. He can take my debit card out of my wallet and order things online with no help from me. He has eliminated the middle man (You!) and revels in his semi-autonomy.

It should also be stated that your most important function—that being, to determine who was naughty or nice—is as useful in today’s world as a rotary phone. Social mores change as fast as iPhones. Naughtiness is not so much a path to ostracization as it is a temporary stasis towards self-justification. Bad people scoff at your judgement.

You are now feckless.

I do not worry about hurting your feelings. Let’s be honest, you pretty much mailed it in decades ago. You are way too busy making hundreds of television commercials. Is the word “no” in your vocabulary? Ninety-nine out of every 100 commercials either has you or Peyton Manning in them. How you two never hooked up is beyond me.

I bring this point up for a very specific reason. I have been advocating for years that people stop spending exorbitant amounts of money for gifts at Christmastime. Too many people are bankrupting themselves to buy gifts for loved ones. If you came out with a statement saying you were taking one year off from giving gifts—and encouraged others to do the same—we might be able to stop…or, at least, curb this masochistic ritual of stressing ourselves out during this season.

This might run contrary to everything you represent and espouse; but, really, as stated above, you are not what you used to be in spirit or in practical application. You need a serious “re-branding.” You can be the guy who reminds everyone that gifts are just a small part of the Christmas spirit. Being nice to people is more important. No one alive has more Christmas cred than you! It’s a bold, innovative move that could make people care about what you say again.

Ponder that.

There is one issue that I need to bring up to you that I doubt will make you happy. But you need to be held accountable for your actions. Do you know what happened to that kid who wrote the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”? Do you care about the damage you did to him?

This poor kid comes downstairs and your tongue is halfway down his mother’s throat! I guess you know that the father worked as a security guard, or maybe he was a long distance truck driver. Anyway, he is out working alone on Christmas Eve and you are making out with this guy’s wife with his kid staring at you.

How you ever kept this secret from Mrs. Claus is a mystery to me. I guess she does not like to listen to 24/7 Christmas music radio stations.

Shame on you, sir! Shame!

It’s a tough world out there, Santa. You used to be the one we turned to for solace from the harshness that is human existence. Now, our faces are glued to screens that enable our desire to be cynical “hate watchers.” Your jolly disposition is ill-suited for the jaded, unsympathetic world that we all embrace like a warm cup of holiday punch. Your one day of work is unnecessary. We can get anything, anytime and usually at 40% off. Your time has past.

I am sad to type these words to you. But someone had to have an intervention. The elves won’t do it. They cower in fear when your portly shadow looms in the door of that sweatshop you scandalously refer to as your “village.” They’d sooner work at Wal-Mart if they could get a ride out of the North Pole. Just like the Reverend Jim Jones moving his cult to Guyana to imprison them, you keep a herd of intimidated dwarfs in the Arctic Circle captive with one mantra to keep them focused on your mission:

Be happy in your work.

Sad indeed. You were a superhero to me when I was a kid. Now, you are a corporate shill that feeds the worst angels of our nature. None of us can trust you to be there for us during this time when want and despair runs through our weary hearts. You have abandoned us. And if we all thought about it, who else can we turn to on December 25th to save us from ourselves?

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas,

Cynically,

H

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