Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yes, Laura, There Is A Santa Claus

The other day I got up totally exhausted from all the Christmas festivities and business and looked on my kitchen counter and saw this:

Okay, like I said in the last post, I cry at EVERYTHING, but this really got to me. A couple of weeks ago Jack was asked to write a letter to Santa as part of his homework, and I figured, hey, why not mail it. Really, I had no idea they have some nice person in the post office mailing stuff back. It was just a form letter, but had Jack's name hand written and a hand written Santa signature, and I thought, like I do every year, why we try to keep the tradition alive. And I guess it got to me specifically because this year Max asked me one day "Mommy, is Santa real"? And guess what I did. I FLAT OUT LIED and said yes. Without hesitation. And I still don't even feel bad about it. And then I wonder why such a blatant lie would cause no guilt at all, and I realized that I want them, so desperately, to believe in Santa. I want them to believe that there really is good in the world, and sometimes we do get stuff just for being good. Even if we're only good once in a while.

And, that, I think is true.

But when I think of this Santa deceit every year, I can't help but think of one of my favorite Christmas stories ever, "The H Street Sledding Record" by Ron Carlson. It reminds me how important it is to keep the dream alive.

Just for some background, I grew up on the very H Street Ron Carlson is talking about in the story, so it has always had special significance to me. But I also adore Ron Carlson, who also grew up in Salt Lake City, and was the Artist For The Schools (or something like that) when I was taking creative writing in high school. I remember just being so in awe that this guy got to WRITE STORIES FOR A LIVING, and remember writing a somewhat mediocre story in an attempt to impress him. But the best part was when I ran into him a couple of years later while I was working at Mrs. Backer's Pastry Shop and he said he remembered a line he liked from my story. I could have died and gone to heaven right then and there. Years later, at a signing, I bought the short story collection, The News of The World, which includes "The H Street Sledding Record," and he signed it for me, saying he remembered me, but I had my suspicions he was only trying to make a sale by that point. Here's the title page:

I love this story because it brought back a lot of childhood nostalgia when I first read it, but now that I have my own kids, it has moved to a whole new level. And so, even though I am probably breaking a million copyright laws by doing so, I scanned it in to share on my blog. Just promise me you won't print it out, photocopy it, and sell it on a street corner somewhere, okay? My kids don't need to grow up visiting me in the state pen. Anyway, if you haven't read it before, here it is (click each page to make them large enough to read).

What can I say, this story just fills me with all kinds of hope.

I hope you enjoy it.

I hope that the legal team at Norton won't shut me down.

And, most of all, I hope you will be doing your own form of shoveling manure on your roof for years to come.