Over Easy: I’ve been a good boy this year, Santa. How are you doing?

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 12/11/2020 10:39:56 PM
Modified: 12/11/2020 10:39:42 PM

Dear Santa,
   Please excuse me for writing to you through the Valley News. I would have gone with the U.S. Postal Service, but the director recently tossed out some high-speed sorting machines for reasons I won’t get into. I don’t have to tell you, of all people, about the importance of on-time delivery.

It cheers me to know you still get out-of-town papers at the North Pole. Do the elves provide a clipping service, or is everything digital these days?

I haven’t written for decades — how time flies. Fast as Team Rudolph! But 2020 seems a perfect time to check in. I have always considered you something of a mentor vis a vis jolliness and good cheer. You can’t frown when Santa’s back in town.

And then there’s your legendary generosity. No one’s in your league, Santa, although Jeff Bezos of Amazon could give you a run for the money with his $200 billion net worth and supply-chain magic.

His “sleds” run on fossil fuels, which is less sustainable than reindeer fission or whatever your secret is. Although Bezos offers fast delivery, he’s not in it to make the dreams of boys and girls come true. His holiday wish is that shareholders are nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of market highs dance in their heads.

Capitalism is riding high now, Santa. Don’t take it personally if Amazon, Walmart or another of the big dogs files a complaint against you with the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice. They might claim you are dumping consumer goods by giving them away for free. I understand where you are coming from: You have a lot of ho-ho-ho in your heart. You have elves, they have robots.

Just a word of advice: Don’t talk much about handouts. Forget the Democratic Socialist Barbie. And ditch her fellow-traveler boyfriend, Ken.

I suppose you still wonder if I’ve been good this year. Have you been harvesting social media data, or do you rely on self-reporting? I think you should be wary of the latter here in the U.S. The whole good-bad paradigm has gone off-kilter.

I’m tempted, in the spirit of the times, to say I’ve been better than good — great, really. Maybe the best of all time. You are going to get a lot of that this year, Santa. It’s a thing. A big, big thing.

If you look in your archives you’ll see my boyhood confessions were about things like hitting my little brother or teasing my sisters during car rides. It’s gotten way more complicated, Santa.

Now good behavior involves wearing a mask in public — I’m doing well with it, but I forgot one day and walked into the Co-op without one. I expected outrage alarms to go off, but I walked briskly out the door, averting my eyes from other Co-op members who I imagine were secretly judging me harshly or at least sighing little sighs of disapproval, and retrieved my mask of shame from the car. I swear it was an accident. Any store security tapes that may show otherwise are taken out of context.

On a happier note, I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint, be a sensitive male, compost leaves, shop local with fervor, recycle with passion, order takeout and tip generously.

I’m working to keep physically distanced and yet stay in touch, have a better attitude about online meetings, use less plastic, eat less red meat and more green kale, change my oil according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, and donate money to good causes (especially when there’s a challenge grant).

I’m trying to watch less TV but see all the binge-worthy shows, read more at night and not fall asleep doing so, exercise moderately 30 minutes a day but not nag other people to exercise moderately 30 minutes a day, be kind to myself and stop thinking unkindly about people in places like Alabama and Arkansas.

That’s for starters.

Finally, was that your Zoom call I overheard the other night on someone’s computer? It went something like this:

“Is an elf making bunny ears behind me?”

“Why is the camera showing just my stocking cap? How do I adjust this thing?”

“Dasher, Dancer, Comet and Vixen. Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen! Everyone mute your microphones!”

I sympathize. Everything’s suddenly a lot of effort, and in 2020 it’s been one thing after another. They say it’s a wonderful life, Santa, but it’s a virtual life right now.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

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