By Sean Dietrich
I feel a little silly writing you. Recently, I wrote a column about how when I was a boy I always wanted you to bring me a cowboy hat. A silver-belly colored Stetson. A few days later, one showed up on my porch from an anonymous person. I almost couldn’t believe it.
I know it was you, Santa.
If only I would have had the foresight to write a column about a summerhouse on the beach with a four-car garage instead.
No. I’m only kidding. Please realize that I am only making a joke, Santa. A three-car garage would be more than plenty.
Anyway, the words “thank you” don’t even begin to cover how I feel. The hat fits perfectly, and I have been wearing it for the last three days. I even wore the hat—this is true—to the grocery store. I almost never wear hats indoors, but I did yesterday.
The cashier referred to me as “Tex.” I asked her to kindly call me “Roy” instead.
She said, “Who’s Roy?”
“Wait, does he sing that song about the Gambler?”
You have to worry about our nation’s youth.
But the truth is I feel so silly, Santa. I didn’t NEED a hat. There are so many other important things happening in the world. Things that are WAY more pressing than my headwear. I feel so ridiculously selfish wearing this beautiful thing.
When I was a boy, I asked you for a hat like this every single year and I never got one. And I was okay with that. Because I knew you had bigger fish to fry. I understood this.
Once, my friend Billy explained it all to me when I was nine. He said that you only had a certain amount of space in your sleigh and you had to pack small gifts. A hat just wasn’t practical. And you’re practical guy.
Looking back, this would explain why you used to always give me eight-packs of underpants each Christmas. But I’m not complaining, I never held that against you. Even though, to be perfectly honest, I never knew why you were so concerned with my underpant needs.
You and my mother would have gotten along famously in this area. She was obsessed with the status quo of my underpants.
My mother kept me in perpetual supply of underpants because she was in constant fear that I would run out of clean underwear. I was the only kid I knew who had three entire dresser drawers wholly dedicated to tighty-whities. I owned more Hanes-brand clothing than Michael Jordan.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Santa, my mother used to sew special name tags into my underwear. I hated my underpants tags, but believe me, they were a lot better than having my mother hand write my name with a Sharpie marker on the waistbands, federal-prison-style.
But I don’t want to talk about my underpants. What I want to tell you is that I was completely okay with not getting the cowboy hat each Christmas. Really I was.
Because I know you have a busy life that’s riddled with headaches and hurdles. You have all sorts of catastrophes you’re dealing with. The world keeps modernizing on you, making everything more difficult for a Saint.
But somehow you keep it together. And you always pay attention to kids. All kids. Little kids. Big kids. Elderly kids. Even kids who have grown up, like me.
I am a guy who wonders who he is sometimes, who’s unsure of himself. At this age you’d think I would have a few things figured out by now. But I don’t. Sometimes I think I’m more confused now than when I was a nine-year-old.
But somehow I still matter to you. And I can’t believe it. I thought you’d forgotten about me a long time ago. I guess I was wrong. You obviously pay attention to people everywhere. Adults who feel like fools in their own lives. People who feel below average. And children who cry when they don’t think anyone is watching.
You must see it all. You must see every kid who doesn’t make the baseball team, every girl who is told she’s too overweight to be pretty, and each child who wishes he were a cowboy.
You must have seen the ten-year-old girl in Birmingham, who always wore ratty clothes to school. And it must have been you who sent her an entire wardrobe. Anonymously. You don’t think I heard about that? I did, Santa. I get around.
I also heard about the young construction worker who had no health insurance. Who had three kids. After his expensive emergency surgery, a man came into his recovery room and said, “Your surgery was covered by an anonymous donor.”
Yeah. I know that was you, Santa.
You don’t know how hard it was to believe in you when I was growing up. Believing in good people is tough to do. Because there are too many people who accidentally prove you wrong. But I’m changing, Santa. The older I get, the more I believe. And the more I believe, the more I want to be just like you.
One day, I hope I can be.
Thank you for the cowboy hat, Santa.