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If You're Too Big to Sit in Santa's Lap Get Inside His Head 

I never sat on Santa's lap -- there were no Santas where I grew up -- so I don't know how the Christmas wishing process works. When my kids were small, they watched enough TV to know from the commercials what to wish for. As they grew bigger, they graduated to wishes they couldn't tell Santa.

I always thought it rather indecent to wish for objects that would bankrupt your parents, but then, once again, I grew up in a place where there weren't any objects. In Communist Romania in the late '50s, Christmas was called the "Winter Holiday," and the festivities featured gangs of poorly dressed but freshly laundered kids singing quasi-religious songs from door to door and being given candy, which was homemade and gooey. That was great, and it sometimes snowed.

Since moving to the Wal-Mart of life here in the horn of plenty, I've been reluctant to wish for anything that can be bought, for fear that it may drain my wish-pool and leave me bereft of truly worthwhile things, such as love and vigor. So my wish-pool is relatively intact, which is why, this Christmas, I decided to sit in your Santa-lap, my Reader, and tell you what I want:

A warehouse building in New Orleans to transform into a theater and studios for my friends and guests from around the world to live in. And some money to fix it and run it. Peggy Guggenheim, if you're reading this, send me an email from the Beyond. I know I can call you directly, but why not make this public and pretend we never knew each other before?

There. Now that I've said it, I feel silly. (Not a new feeling.) So let me use my folly to give youth a lesson: firstly, don't ask publicly for what you want. You must cultivate people, then slip them your wish slowly like a chocolate under the pillow. Secondly, astonish everyone with the lovely uses to which you put your wishes. And thirdly, don't be a fool like me.

My pedagogy floors me: prove me wrong.

Also, for Christmas, I would like a new body with sinewy muscles and the capacity for climbing Everest without any sleep. When I get there, I want wings. And when I'm back in the swamp, I want a prehensile tail to hang from trees and cat eyes to see in the dark.

And then I want you to have everything you wish for, Reader, and I thank you for letting me sit in your lap for so long.

In response to readers' wishes, there is a new issue of Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Letters & Life, up at www.corpse.org. Indulge.

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