I know you never imagined you’d receive a letter from me. After all, I’ve always maintained a high level of inscrutability: clandestine gift deliveries in the dead of night, vanishing before you awake, and the mysterious technological and financial methods by which I orchestrate my annual deliveries. It’s hard to understand exactly what I am. I’ve been many things. At worst, I’ve been a receptacle for mankind’s collective greed, a symbol painstakingly shaped and refined by corporations to shift culture toward desire rather than generosity. At best, I’ve made you feel like maybe there was some magic in the world. Let me elucidate my true nature, dear child.
I began as a man, Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna, in what is now Turkey. Soon, I transfigured into myth, and then, thanks to Washington Irving and subsequently, Clement Clarke Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas,” I began accumulating tremendous power as an idea from children’s faith in my existence. So much power, in fact, that I’ve transcended my previous incarnation as an abstract concept and become something more akin to a God, a being of near-limitless power existing outside time and space, totally omniscient, and fueled by children’s dreams. If you could see me in my true form, the atomic structure of your tiny prepubescent body would be blown apart like dust in a hurricane. I live on a plane of existence high above yours where the past, present, and future, all occur simultaneously. The shining golden souls of the unborn/ dead stand frozen in pure eternal tranquility, waiting to be born/ departed from the mortal world. Creatures beyond your childish conception of demons and angels stalk this place: paramecium beasts the size of carnival cruise liners that feed on optimism, shadowy figures flicking in and out of visibility, the foggy residue of old ghosts.
It helps if children send me letters as it often crystallizes their specific desires for me, but it’s not necessary. Ponies, Deluxe Lando Calrissian figurines, iPads — their wishes continuously stream into my brain like a nonstop Twitter feed, like an endless whispered solicitation, like a perpetual whine. Written into the fabric of my being is this connection with children’s desires, but my God, it sickens me. One quality of children that’s never discussed is how selfish they are. Their lives revolve around sucking up toys, candy, and video games without a thought to giving back. Maybe their parents give something to a family member and stick on the child’s name — at best, the child knows what the gift is — but giving is an alien concept to them. They genuinely don’t care about other people.
So each year, I subtly manipulate quantum probabilities in order to spontaneously produce gifts for children across the world, even for the naughty children. These selfish brats receive Playstation 3’s and Macbook Pros when they deserve less than coal, less than ash. Unfortunately, if I dispensed coal to all the truly naughty children, the percentage receiving gifts would comprise less than 10 percent. That’s okay, though because my true gifts are delivered in more subtle ways throughout your life. Maybe you make the right person laugh or maybe you leave your business card on the right park bench. And my true coal is darker and more toxic than you could ever imagine, reserved only for truly depraved little children. Make no mistake, child, you’re one of them.
To say I see you when you’re sleeping is an understatement of unfathomable magnitude. I see you when you sleep, when you wake — hell, I can read the contents of your soul as easily as you read this letter. I know your secret ego, that you think you’re smarter than other children, better than other children. I know deep down you don’t really believe in your own mortality. I know sometimes you pray for your parents to be murdered so you can be like Batman, Harry Potter, or the Beaudelaire children. With surgical precision, I slice away your carefully constructed veneer to reveal your bones, and oh my, are they rotten, you selfish little worm.
You see, I’m not like other deities who love all people and are merely disappointed by their failings. No, I feel hate, and I hate you. I can see your Amazon Wishlist, and it’s over 200 pages long, each item carefully prioritized. If your little sister gets more gifts, you throw a tantrum until your parents drive you to WalMart. If someone gets a present you want, you steal it when no one’s looking and hide it in your room. You sit in the dining room before guests arrive and gobble every last Christmas tree cookie like a fat piece of crap. After opening a present, you never thank the person who gave it to you. You don’t give anyone else a gift, yet you expect one from each and every family member. You selfish dick. It’s all I can do not to drain the blood from your veins, chew up your skin like jerky, and set you on fire.
No, I’m not going to leave you with coal this year. You’ll get your pile of meaningless objects, each item designed to stimulate temporary serotonin release. You’ll forget this note; I know you will because I’ve foreseen it. You’ll think, ‘What a funny prank someone played on me. Dad sure has a weird sense of humor.’ But I can weave the threads of human destiny into whatever forms I choose — a scarf, a hat, or even heartbreaking tragedy. You’ll receive your presents, oh yes, don’t worry about that. But the baby will be stillborn. And she’ll never love you. And your house will burn down. And your dreams will fizzle. And your chemically induced feelings of contentment will flatline into life-long anhedonia steadily declining into total crippling despair. You’ll want to die, but you’ll be too afraid to kill yourself. Only then, at the bitter end, will you remember my letter, the letter from Santa, just before you choke on your own puke in a condemned warehouse in Garland, Texas.