A Father’s Letter to Santa

David Chartrand

David Chartrand

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  This essay was first published 20 Christmases ago, on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. It launched my career as a newspaper columnist and author.  It also made my son the most popular kid at school, at least among kindergarteners who read The Wall Street Journal.

The piece has since been republished in newspapers, magazines and Web sites around the world. It was included in the first “Christmas Soup for the Soul” anthology as among the most memorable Christmas essays of all time. On Tuesday morning (12.24.13) at 7:55 am CST, the piece will be “performed” by syndicated radio talk show host Bruce Elliott (WILM/1450 AM/Dover, DE)). Elliot has done a live reading of “A Father’s Letter” every Christmas Eve for the past 20 years.)

Dear Santa:

My five-year-old boy scribbled out his Christmas list. It’s there by the fireplace. The Coke and M&Ms are from him, in case you’re hungry. You know 5-year-olds these days. The Cheezits are from me.

Santa, if you don’t mind, I thought I’d go ahead and leave my list, too.  It’s long, but do what you can.
It’s all I want for Christmas.

Christmas List From His Father
Santa, let my little boy grow up still believing that he has the funniest dad in the neighborhood.

Give him many close friends, both boys and girls. May they fill his days with adventure, security and dirty fingernails.

Leave his mom and me some magic dust that will keep him just the size he is now. We’d just as soon he stayed five years old and three feet, four inches.

If he must grow up, make sure he still wants to sit on my lap at bedtime and read The Frog and the Toad.

If you can help it, Santa, never let him be sent into war. His mother and I love our country, but we love our five-year-old boy more.

While you’re at it, give our world leaders a copy of The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara’s retelling of the Battle of Gettysburg. May it remind them that too many moms and dads have wept at Christmas for soldiers who died in battles that needn’t have been fought.

Let our house always be filled with slamming doors and toilet seats, which are the official sound of little boys.
Break it to him gently, Santa, that his dad won’t always be able to carry him to bed at night or brush his teeth for him. Teach him courage in the face of such change.

Let him understand that no matter how nice you are to everyone, the world will sometimes break your heart. As you know, Santa, a child’s feelings are fragile as moth wings.

Let him become a piano player, a soccer star or a priest. Or all three.  Anything but a tax-and-spend politician.

Give him a hunger for books, music and geography. May he be the first kid in kindergarten to be able to find Madagascar on a map.

The kid’s a born artist, Santa, so send more crayons. May our kitchen window and refrigerator doors be ever plastered with his sketches of surreal rainbows and horses with big ears.

Through the years, steer him oh so carefully to that little girl destined to be his bride. Let his mother and me still be around when he walks her down the aisle. If there’s a just God, let her daddy be obscenely rich.

Grant him a heart that will cherish what his parents did right and forgive us for the mistakes we surely will have made over a lifetime of raising him.

Let him not hold it against us that he was born with my chin and his mother’s ears. Time will teach him that these are God’s ways of girding him for life’s adversities.

Hold him steady on the day that he learns the truth about you and the Easter Bunny. May he take the news better than I did.

While you’re flying around the heavens, Santa, make sure God has heard our prayer for this child: Lead my little boy not into temptation; deliver him from evil.

Be careful out there, Santa. And close the flue on your way up.


© David Chartrand, 1993, 2005, 2013, 2015
David Chartrand writes humor and commentary from his home in Olathe, Kan.

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