Parnall Correctional Facility
Jackson, MI 49201
I hope you still go by Jeffrey, anyways. I know that some guys in prison take nicknames that make them seem tough, and Jeffrey doesn’t sound all that intimidating. I suppose if I were ever locked up, I wouldn’t be able to go by Santa or St. Nick without quickly catching the eye of some chubby-chaser.
This must be strange, getting a letter from me, and maybe you don’t want to hear from me, maybe you still won’t even believe that I exist, even with this letter in hand. Maybe life has long beaten simple, naïve hope out of you, and believing in Santa is just not a luxury you can afford. I doubt there’s much in your life right now heralding the magic of Christmas, not when you’re tightly gripping the soap in the shower or taking a dump right there in front of everybody.
Still, I am writing on the off chance there is still some remnant of that little boy — the one who wrote me a letter asking for a Buzz Lightyear Arm Blaster nearly twenty years ago — sitting in your cell with you.
You see, I feel a little responsible for your being locked up. Had I nudged your name from the Naughty List onto the Nice List, you would have unwrapped your present that Christmas morning and spent the rest of the day and the weeks to come Arm Blasting imaginary villains as well as that little prick Nathan Myers who lived next door to you. And I doubt either of us would be surprised if you’d Arm Blasted your dad a few times, albeit secretively from behind the couch.
If you’d had an Arm Blaster to unwrap that morning, you wouldn’t have tucked one into your coat later that week at the store with your parents, and the store manager wouldn’t have stopped you at the door when you’d tried sneaking out ahead of your parents. And your dad wouldn’t have let them call the police and take you to juvenile detention instead of taking you home and imparting the kind of fatherly wisdom that helps kids avoid a lifetime of criminal activity.
When I saw that sad, prepubescent mug shot (yes, Santa can get his hands on juvenile records), I felt like an opportunity had passed. Of course, in some ways it had. By next Christmas, let’s face it, you were pretty rotten. I know all about the cat and your dad’s toothbrush.
I’d like to explain myself, and why you didn’t get a present that Christmas. People are just plain confused about me. I mean, really, if anyone wants to prove my existence, all they have to do is come to the North Pole and see. My name is right on the mailbox. And all that he sees you when you’re sleeping stuff (really creepy when you think about it) is not true.
As for he knows when you’ve been bad or good, that’s harder to explain. Like most things, even those that are true, it’s not that simple.
The truth is, I have my ways of finding out if someone’s been bad, but it’s not like I know every secret deed or dirty thought. I read the newspapers (so Casey Anthony and Vladimir Putin won’t be getting visits this year). I monitor YouTube (Hey! Stupid kids! If you want to avoid the Naughty List, stop posting videos of yourselves shooting people with paintball guns and beating up the school’s LGBT suspects!). I also get school reports.
In your case, I’m afraid, it really came down to Nathan Myer’s letter. Granted, your school reports were pretty suspect, but it was Nathan’s claim that you taught him three bad words and showed him how to light farts on fire that put you over the edge. I always wondered why he put those things in his letter, but now that he’s become some hotshot lobbyist in D.C., I have my doubts about the whole thing.
I admit, it’s an imperfect system, one I’m afraid that rewards the sneaky and sometimes makes unnecessary targets of kids like you. But just listen to these screw-ups: Ted Kaczynski got a really nice erector set for his tenth Christmas, and Jeffrey Dahmer got an Easy Bake Oven one year! Ugh! I did think the Easy Bake Oven was an odd wish, but whether or not playing with girly toys causes boys to become flamboyant homosexuals is for insecure fathers to worry about, not Santa. And little Teddy wrote such fascinating letters!
Anyways, the elves don’t make the Arm Blasters anymore. They actually don’t make any toys. Those jobs have all been outsourced, and many of the elves have left and are trying to get their own show on The Learning Channel.
I did, however, pick one up on eBay. Unfortunately, for reasons I’m sure are obvious, I can’t send it to you now. It’s yours, though, if you can get yourself out on good behavior. Maybe it’s a stupid gesture anyways, or worse, rubbing salt in deep wounds.
Remember, though, Jeffrey. I can’t work miracles. I’m not in the business of salvation. I’m just a jolly old man who hands outs toys.