I went to the mall today and saw Santa. He was a bit surprised when he saw me roll in and plop down on his lap. He was perched on a red throne in front of a Christmas gingerbread cottage with stuffed reindeer on top and a plywood sleigh painted red and green. Fake snow covered everything.

“What can I do for you, ma’am?” he asked, and I could tell he was unsure of whether he should put his arms around me or not. “Is this some sort of office party joke?”

“I have a song for you,” I told him.

“Oh, I just love songs,” said Santa. “Let’s hear it.”

“Okay, here goes — “

I started singing. I have a beautiful voice and everyone around was instantly enthralled.

Do you remember me?

“Of course!” said Santa.

I sat upon your knee

“Once or twice…” chuckled Santa.

I wrote to you with childhood fantasy

“That’s a pretty melody there,” said Santa, and I saw him sneak a look at his watch.

Well I’m all grown up now

“I can see that.”

And still need helps somehow

“Don’t we all…”

I’m not a child but my heart still can dream…

“How touching.”

So here’s my lifelong wish…

“Mm-hmm…”

My grown up Christmas list

“Right.”

Not for myself but for a world in need

“Oh, how nice of you.”

No more lives torn apart

“Oh, pretty, yes…”

That wars would never start

“Okay…”

And time would heal all hearts

“Those are some lofty — “

And everyone would have a friend

“Okay, but — “

And right would always win

“Technically — “

And love would never end

Santa waved his mittens in my face.

“Okay, stop, stop, stop — what makes you think I have the power to do anything about all this?”

I was taken aback — he hadn’t even let me start the second verse.

“I don’t know, you’re Santa,” I told him. “I just told you. I believed in you as a kid, I thought you were like, one step below God or something.”

Santa kind of sighed.

“Here’s the thing — you want something done about the state of the world, the only person who can do anything about it is you. I bring presents to kids once a year, that’s it. If you want, like, the latest video game platform or the latest tech gadget or whatever else it is kids want nowadays, then send me one of those letters and my elves will deal with it. I just ride in the sleigh, pass out presents and make appearances throughout the month of December for promotional purposes. Again, that’s it. That’s all in my contract, my job description. I’m not political at all. I’m not even allowed to be one race, for fuck’s sake. I don’t have anything to do with this ‘love will never end’ crap. That’s on you people.”

“But isn’t anything possible around Christmastime?”

“I don’t know, I just want to wear this comfy suit and eat cookies and pass out presents to well-behaved kids. That’s all I’ve been doing for the past hundred years and that’s all I’ll do until I’m replaced by the next ubiqutious cultural holiday icon. I don’t know why people are always asking me to do something that they’re more than capable of themselves. Don’t be greedy, help each other out, it’s really not that fucking complicated. It’s not ‘Christmas-miracle’ level stuff here, all right? Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are actual children waiting to ask me for material goods like normal people.”

I walked away, kind of disappointed but with a new palpable sense of clarity.

Everything is a work in progress.

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