Essay: He gives Santa the day off

Dear Santa,

I turned 60 a couple of years ago and to be honest, I haven’t even thought about writing to you for decades. I am a bit ashamed to admit that many of those decades I spent as a non-believer. I hope you haven’t felt neglected. I know you have a full plate, so I doubt you noticed.

I guess another reason I haven’t written to you is that I haven’t needed anything. My health is pretty good. I have been blessed with a terrific family, a life partner, my wife, so much better than I deserve. She has handled with me with humor and affection. There are two great daughters and two tall, hardworking sons-in-law who cherish them, three practically perfect grandkids, my parents are doing well, and I get along with my brother and sister pretty well.

I can count as friends more people than I have fingers and toes. I also live on the Vineyard in a mostly warm and caring community of interesting people that often feels like one big family. I’ve had plenty to eat, actually a little too much. I have a warm, dry house with running water, hot and cold, tools to make just about anything, a couple of really nice bicycles, the internet and cable TV, a sound system, shelves of books and a couple of guitars I have planned to learn to play since I was 19. I want for nothing.

I still haven’t gotten over the time you tricked me when I was eight. I am sure you remember. I wanted an electric saber saw, one of those reciprocating hand held scroll saws, more than anything else in the world. I got up early to look under the tree, sure I would see the saw.

There were many wrapped boxes that were either the wrong size or not heavy enough and, off to one side near the base of a bookcase next to the tree, a set of two battalions of civil war soldiers, blue and grey. It was an antique free-standing bookcase with old wavy glass doors. It had five-inch legs and an open area underneath. I moved to get a better view of the soldiers and noticed a coping saw under the bookcase. My selfish little boy heart fell through my stomach. I had gotten a crummy little handsaw.

I worked off my disappointment, playing with the soldiers, killing them off one by one until my parents got up and my dad suggested that I look further under the bookcase. I was speechless. The saber saw I wanted was there.

I know there is a moral here somewhere. Don’t give up the ship. You never know what’s under the next bookcase. Life is good. There is a Santa Claus. Whatever it is, I think that event helped me become a pretty optimistic person who thinks there is always room for improvement, even if I still carry a little guilt, more than 50 years later, for being so selfish. Thank you Santa for that.

So why am I writing to you? I would ask you to work for world peace and solutions to hunger, but I am pretty sure that is our work and not yours. I guess I just wanted you to know that I am glad you are around. I don’t need anything. I am a pretty lucky guy. You can skip my house this year. Maybe you can finish up a little early and work in a winter nap, like I plan to do on Christmas. Merry Christmas.

Tony Omer is a Martha’s Vineyard Times staff writer.