Christmas lists and sitting on Santa’s lap, whispering the names of wished for Barbie’s and bats and balls past the white beard and into his listening ear, are all part of what most children enjoy about the Yuletide season.
One afternoon, after I had picked up my son from school, I asked how his day had gone.
“Good, and I wrote my letter to Santa!” He replied.
“That’s exciting! What does it say?” I asked.
“What I want for Christmas,” Raff replied.
“Well yes, but what did you ask for?” I said with a sigh, because I could only imagine what would be on his list.
You see, my son has always asked for the most outlandish items on his Christmas wish list. He usually only asks for one item; one completely unattainable item. Some of the most memorable requests have been: A wizard, a dinosaur that can eat people, a hover board that can go across water, and a spaceship with aliens on it. And he is in complete earnest when he writes his letters to Santa. What is a parent to do with Christmas wishes like these?
So, of course, I was curious as to what his letter to Santa would say this time. He rummaged in his backpack and handed me his list. It was written on red-lined paper, in his precious 3rd grade handwriting (which won’t get any better if he inherited my handwriting genes), and was glued to a green piece of construction paper.
“Dear Santa, I would like a chainsaw for Christmas.”
“A chainsaw?” I asked Raff incredulously.
“Yep,” he replied nonchalantly.
I rolled my eyes from the front seat. I can only imagine what his teacher thought about his Christmas list.
The following day, I took Raff to see Santa at the mall. I was dreading it slightly, as I do every year. While I love taking my son to see Santa and the sight of his face lighting up is just magical, it can be a bit awkward. When your child whispers into the jolly man’s ear that he would like a wizard or a dinosaur that eats people, the looks Santa and his elves give you are priceless. I usually just laugh nervously and throw in a “oh kids these days” or “oh he’s just being silly.”
We waited in line to take our turn, and Raff and I people watched. We watched the kids that were afraid of Santa Claus and screamed their entire time on his lap. We watched the kids who asked for numerous items and the kids who asked for puppies and kittens and their parents who stood wide-eyed nearby. Finally it was Raff’s turn.
I looked down at him and with a sigh said “Do you think you could think of anything else you’d like to have besides a chainsaw?” I was really hoping to not have to do my nervous chuckle this year.
“Nope, that’s what I want.” Raff replied.
I sighed a heavier sigh. “Okay.”
Raff climbed the two steps on the platform on which the big man in red was seated.
“Hello young man!” Santa said cheerily.
“Hi Santa!” Raff said.
“And what would you like to have this Christmas?” Santa asked.
“A chainsaw,” Raff answered.
“A chainsaw?” Santa scoffed. “Why on earth do you want a chainsaw?”
“To cut down trees, of course,” Raff said, completely serious.
Santa looked over at me. I grinned sheepishly.
“Young man, why do you want to cut down trees?”
“Well,” Raff said, “not just any old trees — Christmas trees. I want a chainsaw so that I can cut down Christmas trees so that everyone on earth can have one. A boy in my class asked for a Christmas tree when we wrote letters to you at school, he said he had never had one. So I thought if I had a chainsaw I could cut him down a Christmas tree and then give everyone else one that didn’t have one. I have my own tree in my room that my mom lets me decorate any way I want. And it makes me sad that he hasn’t even had one at all.”
As my heart was melting, Santa just sat in silence with Raff still perched on his knee. Then he took Raff into a big bear hug. “Young man, that makes me very happy. I’ll try to look out for kids this year that don’t have a Christmas tree. That is very thoughtful. However, I’m not sure you really need a chainsaw. You might get hurt. Is there anything else you’d like to have?” Santa asked.
“Yeah, I’d really like to have a baby brother!” Raff said.
Santa looked in my direction. I could feel my eyes grow wide with incredulousness.
“Hmm…” Santa mused. “Well maybe I can find a small, safe chainsaw for you to use…” Santa threw me an apologetic look. Raff hugged Santa again and climbed down from his lap. I stepped closer to help him down from the steps.
“Good luck,” Santa whispered as I took Raff’s hand.
I just smiled, knowing I would need a lot of it with this boy.