Dear Santa,

Hi Santa,

It’s me!  You probably have me in the naughty book because you haven’t gotten a letter from me since somewhere around 1980.  I know I have been a “non-believer” for sometime, but sitting and watching my eight-year-old painstakingly compose her letter to you got me to thinking.  She is writing you with the pure faith that you are a magical, loving, grandfatherly soul who wants nothing more than to make her happy.  As I watched her sign her name and place her letter in the envelope addressed to

Santa Claus

North Pole

I thought that maybe she was onto something.  Maybe I haven’t believed in a little over thirty years, but there is more to you than a one-night-a-year sleigh ride.  The spirit of you, Santa Claus, is alive all over the world, and if I composed a letter, too, maybe my hopes and dreams would come true, as well.

Now, I’d like to say as a 43-year-old woman, I understand that my wants are much greater than an eight-year-old’s.  She asked for an iPad-mini, and rumor has it, she has been on the good list this year and that she is probably going to get it!  Don’t worry, Santa, we explained to her that it is really hard for the elves to put all of those apps inside that tiny machine, so she probably would only get one or two more items under the tree.  God bless her heart, do you know what she said?  She said, “Well, Jesus only got three presents, so I guess that will be enough for me.”

Santa, I am not going to ask for a new garage door or glass-block windows for the basement.  Indubitably, it would be too much work to get the elves to install either of these items while you are here.  I understand; I will save for those items myself.  Also, I am not as materialistic as Sally or Lucy who thought the only happiness they could find would be in the banking or real estate markets.  I have found in recent years that unbeknownst to my younger self, happiness is not found in what I possess.  It is found in what I do, who I am, and with whom I share my time.

So I guess that leads me to what I really want more than anything in the world.  Santa, what I really want is for you to visit me in my dreams and give me inspiration and courage.  Since seventh grade, I have said that someday I would be a writer.  However, I am not, well, at least not a published writer, and I fear that if I try to write anything of substance, it will be rejected.  I need you to give me some good old fashion tenacity, mix in a little creativity, throw in a dash of vision, and maybe just maybe, I can get what I want for Christmas.  Yes Santa, what I want for Christmas is to see my name in print.  No, not just in the blogosphere world.  I want to be in real print, with ink and color and pages that when you lift them to your nose they smell slightly acidic but fresh and clean and people of all walks of life can come across my words and…

Well, you get the point.  If you are real, I know my dream will come true.  If not, well then you’re just the nice whiskered man who dons my wrapping paper and my door wreath.

I just want you to know that I want to believe as much as Lizzie does, and I will do everything in my power to be a good girl this year.  Please consider taking me off the naughty list.  I know a friend of yours, Buddy, and he once said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

Well, Santa, if that’s what it takes!  I’m on it!

Merry Christmas, and thank you in advance for the consideration.

Love, Cheryl

An Open Letter to Nick Swisher

Dear Nick,

On behalf of the people of Cleveland, I want to say “Thank You.”  Thank you for having a heart.

Last week, when I found out that you were single-handedly paying for the fireworks show after Saturday’s game, I was moved.  What a kind gesture!  I was so touched that I began telling my friends about it because I viewed this gesture as purely altruistic.

Sadly, my coworkers and friends did not see it the way I did.  “So?  He can afford it.  He’s making millions.”

To be honest, Nick, I was kind of deflated by their pessimism.  Why does it matter if you can afford it or not?  Does kindness have to come only from those who struggle to give it?  Does benevolence have to cost the giver?

I think I understand your generosity in a way others do not.  You see, there are a great many people with money who are not paying for fireworks shows just to provide twenty minutes of entertainment for the average Joe.  Sure, like you, they make amazing donations to charities and foundations, money well spent because it helps provide research and assistance to people who are in true need.

All donations are laudable, but something about this donation was different to me.  You wanted to do something nice just for the sake of doing something nice, and in the true spirit of an altruistic giver, I believe you are not expecting anything in return.

In a world of pessimists where worth is based on the consistency of one’s batting average, it is easy to see why so many other players see themselves as transient.  Many players do not take stake in a community because they are afraid of “the trade” or what will come at the end of their contracts.  Many players are in cities, and as much as they may love their teams, they never fall in love with the city and feel truly rooted in it.

Nick, I personally feel that your positivity and energy are good for this city.  It is obvious to me that you have rooted yourself in our community, and you embody the change you expect to see.  Whether you realize it or not, like the pebble that skips across the water creating rings, your efforts are creating a rippling effect in Cleveland.  Your passion and excitement are infectious!

Thanks again,

Cheryl

When It Is Your Birth Day, You Should Have a Party

My oldest daughter Carson and I are friends.  Yes, I am her mother, and I can make her cry on a dime if I need to lay the guilt on, but most of the time, I do not have to.  Most of the time, I like being with her and we carry on conversations like friends.  Today, we went birthday present shopping for the little boy she babysits.  We were invited to the party not because I have been friends with his parents for almost twenty years.  No.  We were invited to the party because Jackson told his mom that he wanted Carson on the A-list.

Carson and I headed to Target to peruse the aisles.  She knew going in that she was going to by Jackson a squirt gun.  Yesterday, while babysitting he described to her the ballistic missile of squirt guns.  He told her it had to have a range of at least 400 feet.  He said he needed to stand by his back fence and be able to squirt over the house– the house that is over an acre away.  He may be disappointed.  The longest range we could find was 28 feet.  I, on the other hand, was looking to theme gift.  Everything has to go together.  We walked around the store for over an hour while I contemplated Justice League, Angry Birds, Ninjago, or Skylanders.  I like for everything to go together, so I kept picking things up and putting them away, circling from toys to clothes to home office supplies time and again.

During this process, Carson told me a story about Jackson.  Yesterday, while explaining to her the squirt gun that he wanted, she asked him, “When is your actual birthday?”

“Sunday,” he said.  “You’re coming to my party.”

“You’re birthday’s not Sunday; it’s tomorrow,” his brother interjected.

“No.  My birthday is Sunday.  That’s when my party is.”

“No.  It’s tomorrow,” CJ insisted again.

“No.  Dad said my birthday is Sunday,” Jackson said annoyed with his brother.

“What is your birthdate?” Carson asked.

“July 12,” he said.

“Well, that’s tomorrow.  You are one day away from five!”  Carson was trying to lighten the mood.

She said he looked bewildered.  “That doesn’t make sense.  Why would I have my party on Sunday if my birthday is tomorrow?  Why don’t I just have my party tomorrow?”

By this point in the story, she was laughing hard.  She understood what I sometimes feel when talking to children: bewildered yet charged by their innocence and naivety.

“Mom, I hope he is having fun today.  He was really mad that his mom didn’t schedule his party on his actual birthday.”

“He’ll be fine,” I said.  I tugged on her arm where she was holding the squirt gun she was purchasing.  “Especially when he gets his special gift you are buying him.”

She smiled, a grown up smile: the smile that makes me proud I am her mom and happy to be her friend.