Dear Santa Claus,

First of all, in the interest of fair disclosure, I should point out that I don't really believe you exist. But Kellyjust in case I'm wrong, I would hope you don't hold that against me this Christmas when you're delivering presents to good people all over the world.

I also should make it clear that technically I'm not a child. In fact, I'm 66 now! Can you believe it? In my defense, though, I've been described numerous times as immature, so I hope that counts for something.

How have you been? Feeling OK? I imagine you're getting pretty old, and still showing no sign of slowing down, huh? Wow. You're quite an inspiration to the rest of us — many of us still hanging in there at our jobs even though we'd like to retire and sit on a beach in Mexico and pursue some serious margarita drinking.

How's Mrs. Claus? You guys must have been together a really, really long time. What's it been — 150 years? Two hundred? You guys could probably lead some seminars on keeping it fresh. I know I'd pay to hear about that.

How about the elves? Are they staying busy? I would guess they are, assuming they've been back to school and learned some computer skills. There don't seem to be many toys out there (or anything else, for that matter) that don't have something to do with electronics.

Well, that's probably enough small talk. Here's a list of things I could really use to make my life better. I'll put them in order, so if for some reason you can't bring everything, you'll know what my priorities are.

  • Cash, and a lot of it. I think I'm gonna need several million dollars if I'm really going to enjoy my retirement years. I've worked pretty much nonstop since high school, and I've always saved a share of my earnings, but I just don't seem to be getting ahead, so how about a little boost? Let's face it, just a couple of medical emergencies can put almost anybody in the poorhouse.
  • A tree house in our backyard for the other person who lives at our house. She wants one of those really cool ones, like you see in the magazines, with wide, curving steps up into the several different rooms (which should be on different levels), all sorts of kooky, odd-shaped windows and lots of window seats for reading because she really, really likes to read.
  • A number of home improvements to increase the value of our house. These should include (though not limited to) new cabinets and countertops in the kitchen, carpet in the living room, new flooring upstairs and something on our ceilings beside that popcorn stuff — and, oh yeah, horizontal siding that covers up the T-111 we now have.
  • If there is such a thing as pills that would make my pants fit looser, I'd like some of those. In fact, better make it lots of them. I know I could probably accomplish the same thing by eating properly and exercising every day, but come on — that's really hard to do.
  • Do you think it would be possible to install a couple of machine guns on the front of my car — you know, like the ones in jet fighter planes — so whenever some guy in a BMW cuts me off going through Sellwood I could give him a couple bursts and blow out his tires?
  • Several cases of good liquor. The other person who lives at our house likes Maker's Mark in her Manhattans, but the price has gone up so much she refuses to let me buy that. I, on the other hand, favor martinis, and Tanqueray 10 is a favorite (although I usually buy Amsterdam or Burnett's). Then, for company, we probably should have some good scotch, vodka and tequila — maybe some Glenlivet, Stoli and Patron?
  • I don't know if this is anything within your power, but it would sure be nice if you could arrange to have that federal government computer fixed so people could do their health care shopping — and everybody else could stop yapping about it. While you're at it, fix the Care Oregon one, too. It is aggravating (and embarrassing) when this stuff doesn't work.
  • Well, that's probably enough. If you're not real, as I mentioned before, then just forget it. Who needs you?

    A former editor for several Oregon newspapers, including the Lake Oswego Review, Woodburn Independent, Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, Mikel Kelly now works on the central design desk for Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune and contributes an occasional column.

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