A LETTER TO MRS. CLAUS • by D.Y. Freeman

Dear Mrs. Claus,

You may wonder why I’m writing to you instead of Mr. Claus. After all, I am the father of a beautiful two-and-a-half-year-old girl, Adrienne, so surely I must have a Christmas list that stretches miles long: Elsa and Anna, Finding Dory, My Little Pony….

The reason I’ve decided to contact you isn’t for the toys that are going to appear under the tree Christmas morning. It’s because I understand the truth behind the old adage: behind every great man there’s a great woman… and because of this, I need your help.

I know that were it not for you, Santa would forget to put on his jacket before going out into the snow, and by now, he would have lost his voice dozens of times; instead of seeing his belly shake and hearing his boisterous cry: “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!” … he’d be chanting: “’Oh! ’Oh – cough, wheeze!”

Without you, he’d get caught up playing Candy Crush on his iPhone and forget to untether Rudolph and his friends to usher them back into the stable, and on Christmas Eve, he would make it halfway to North America before realizing he forgot his bag of gifts. He’d have to double back to the North Pole with a raspy voice and nine shivering reindeer.

I know this because almost daily, I chase Adrienne in the snow with her puffy pink jacket and snow boots tucked under my shoulder — she’s a lot quicker than her old man. I know this because three weeks ago, I forgot to set our clocks back for daylight savings and we showed up to her gymnastics class an hour early, and at least twice this week when I dropped her off at daycare, I realized midway to work that I’d left her backpack sitting by the front door.

This is Adrienne’s and my first Christmas since her mother passed. Adrienne is too young to understand what happened, and I don’t know how to explain to her that her mother got into the car one day and never came home. Adrienne is just learning how to ask for her juice, and her life is about dress-up and Disney and Santa Claus….

Sometimes I don’t know how to do this… to be a parent to my little girl. When I pick Adrienne up, she looks at me and I can see that I’m her whole world. It’s too much, really. Her mother was always much better at this than I am: she cooked her organic meals and put her to bed at 8:30 sharp every night. These days, I’m fishing through the freezer for chicken nuggets while Adrienne bangs her sippy cup against the table, and we’re lucky if she gets into a bath by 9.

I have a confession to make, Mrs. Claus: I stopped believing in Santa long ago — years ago. As a child, my sister and I wrote letters to the North Pole; the day after Thanksgiving we’d sit by the fireplace with our crayons and draw out long lists of all the toys and gadgets we wanted, and the next day my mother would walk them out to the mailbox. And that was it: we wouldn’t receive a reply. For me, it was never enough to keep believing — I always thought that Santa was too busy to read our letters, and that’s why we’d only receive a few meager gifts under our tree.

But I understand now that Santa wasn’t ignoring us. He’s just an average fellow like myself, doing his best to single-handedly look after all the boys and girls of the world. Children are precious; they have a lot of needs and wants (and sometimes it’s a challenge to distinguish the two), and if you look the other way for even a split second, they’ve changed; they’ve grown.

So I ask you this. For those days that Adrienne tugs on my sleeve and asks in her babble-speak for her mama. For the times she throws herself on the floor at the grocery store and screams because we aren’t getting the frosty cereal. For the moments her red curls shine like her mother’s and I struggle to tell her how beautiful she looks. Instead of The Avengers movie on Blu-Ray, grant me Captain America’s courage. In lieu of an Insta-Grow garden, grant me the patience to watch my daughter blossom into the smart, independent woman she will become.

D.Y. Freeman is a multi-genre writer from Houston, TX. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and has worked in editing, management, and sales in scientific publishing for ten years. She enjoys heavy metal, dark fiction, and drawing baby frogs for her one-year-old son.

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