Electronic Christmas Greetings

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"Reflections of Santa Claus", 1982

A polished fixture lights the late night bench
Where Santa completes the checking of his list.
Volumes of children living now are stacked
Before the neatly lined rows of dusty legers
Filled with naems of children grown and gone.

A vinyl pointed pen is utilized
To jot down notes on alphabetic pages
Where a fountain pen was used some years before –
And once even a quill.

He remembers back along the centuries of names:
This year the girls are Megans, Jennifers and Kims;
The boys are Jasons, Marks and Mathews.
In other times he composed unending lists of
Johns and Bobbys,
Barbaras, Alices and Judys.

The fashions of the times,
He ponders.
The ancient names revisited
To fade again
And newly discovered names to take their place.

Outside a storm is brewing;
Swirls of dime-sized flakes
Brush softly past the windows of his shop;
The peaceful swooshing calms him
As he closes out the final book and sits back in his chair.

He removes his glasses and rubs his eyes;
He's ready for a rest,
But only after Christmas Eve
Will he be able to sleep for very long
With the winter wrapping him in darkness
  till the spring.

The cycles of the years
From barrel hoops to hoola hoops,
And roller skates have come and gone again.
Some toys that he may stock in June
May fade from memory by first frost
And there he'll be with pogo sticks
Or Purple People Eater hats
In tens of thousands
Awaiting a revival that will never come:
Can never come...

It was easier long ago;
The same toys were wanted by a father as by his father;
Good strong toys of iron and brass –
And for the girls a doll
That only needed a dress or two
From one season to the next;
And no one expected them to dance, to talk, to wet
Or cough and sneeze.

Generations move too fast today.
No time to enjoy the quality of life,
He thinks.
In the corner of his shop sits a stack of plastic forms
Imprinted quickly and stamped out by the thousands.
Hand painting lasted millenniums,
He muses.
But in these last decades of our own century
The craft is going fast,
And wooden blocks and Lincoln Logs have changed in twenty years;
A throwaway world of cardboard, Styrofoam and glue
   is all that's left.

Rising from his chair
He stretched wide
And wanders to the cupboard for a glass
Of port.
The rich liquid swirls
As he lifts it to his mouth and pours it down.
All the years he's spent
Learning languages and cultures
Float back behind his tired eyes.
Centuries of work
And ages of tradition.


The pace has speeded up.
Cultures die in less than thirty years
And lifestyles last for five,
Where once traditions lasted generations
Spanning decades with strong bonds of
Family, friends and love.

I'm getting old,
He figures,
As he pours another glass.
My times are not theirs;
But how could they be?
Their times are not even their own.
Tradition has been traded for transition
And all that went before is
Worn and out-of-date.

But maybe it's always been that way,
He chuckles to himself.
And I do go on.
I board my sleigh each year
And tear into the skies
With sacks of gifts,
Bundles of candies and cakes
And passels of shirts, pants and ruffled skirts.

But the humor passes quickly;
The wrinkles at the edges of his eyes
Travel to the center of his face
And rest above his nose in worry.

There are so many children anymore,
He fusses.
When I began my voyages
Fewer knew of me.
But those that did
Believed in me.
And even if I could bring them nothing
More than hope,
They came around each year to visit me.
They often ask for presents for their baby brothers
Or their parents and a neighbor's child,
And if I sad I'd give them what I could
They'd smile and thank me.

Today I'm so accessible.
They all expect the grandest gifts
Even if their families have nothing.
'And if I can't bring them everything the want
They cast me off;
They doubt that I exist.

He settles in a giant chair
Placed by the crackling embers
Of the fire.

It's worth it though,
He brightens.
Those others growing up –
The ones who DO believe;
Those few who see that beauty lies within,
And that Christmas is contained
Not in vessels full,
But in those half empty.

And on this note he falls asleep,
His white beard cradled on his rounded belly.
He dreams of years of missions done
On Christmas Eve,
When all the sadness he would feel before
Each flight
Would turn to joy
As he would arch into the heavens.
And all the world he couldn't understand
Would loom below
All white, harmonious and new.