I wanted to write an apology to you kids that aren't getting anything this Christmas. I know some of you have been waiting for several Christmases for me to stop by and you must be disappointed that I haven't been showing up.
The truth is it has nothing to do with whether you have a chimney or not. Oh, to be sure I do prefer nice wide chimneys, but I can work around the hazards presented by tighter entrances. Furnace flues and vent pipes, back doors, and transoms all serve very well.
It also has nothing to do with whether or not you live in mobile homes. My reindeer can land very lightly on tin roofs and never cave one in. In fact, I can land the old sleigh just about anywhere.
It really has nothing to do with whether you've been naughty or nice. A lot of you have been very good indeed and still have not gotten a present in years.
It's mostly a matter of reality and expectation.
It hurts me to say this, but there are some rich kids who are a lot more demanding. You see, some of you poor kids have been getting nothing for years. Why? You are realistic and have very low expectations. But this is not true across town where the rich kids live. They have very high expectations so if they order a video machine and their own television I feel an obligation to them. They get so mad when they don't get every thing they ask for. I get the nastiest letters on the 26th of December from rich little kids who ask for so many things that I can hardly remember them all.
Let me read you a letter from Jimmy of Knickerbocker Hills:
You are a real loser! Where's my three-ton gift package of Legos??? I told you three times at Macy's what I wanted. What a turkey! I couldn't believe it when I got up on Christmas morning and all I had was the two-ton package. Now I won't be able to build my replica of the Empire State Building, like I was planning. I suppose I'll just have to wait till next Christmas. But no more milk and cookies for you, Buster, till you get your thinking cap back on. If you see the Easter Bunny please tell him that in my April basket I want more chocolate eggs and fewer marshmallow "peeps."
Jimmy of Knickerbocker Hills
P.S. You forgot the bell on the bike you brought me, you fat, red buffoon.
Would you believe I've got to respond to a legal complaint from a seven-year-old in Marin County who is suing me for breach of promise — a promise I made in the Ghiardelli Square in October? I forgot her Barbie Convertible, she says. The truth is I brought her one the previous Christmas and Ken wrecked it in a head-on collision with G.I. Joe's tank. But gift supply here at the North Pole was low on Barbie Convertibles last year, so I figured she could wait till next Christmas. She's contesting my decision in court.
So, you see I am kept so busy with hate mail and litigations, that I just haven't had the time to get around to all of you poor kids. Many of you are so nice that you never write me those kinds of letters. When I make you a promise in the Walmart, you never really take me seriously. It helps on Christmas Eve, when I'm trying to get around to everyone, to know that if I have to miss you, you won't get upset or anything. Ah! Blessed are all of you with low expectations.
Sometimes I remind myself of a counselor I heard about. It seems there was a certain psychiatrist who yelled out to his receptionist in a crowded waiting room, "Send in the psychotics first, those with inferiority complexes don't mind waiting as much."
Maybe you poor kids should organize. Bring some pressure on the North Pole and force my hand. It helped four years ago in one of the ghettos. Seven poor kids got together and formed the PKFKSS (Poor Kids for Keeping Santa Straight). They lobbied with the Newark courts and filed a petition for Equal Yuletide Treatment.
Naturally, I had to respond or look politically insensitive. So, the next Christmas, I can tell you I dumped a lot of junk down those chimneys. Honestly, it was high time. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease. But poor little "greasy-wheel kids" hardly ever squeak. I guess the kids in the PKFKSS were just tired of being overlooked. I can understand this, but it does slow me down every time I have to add another ghetto to my delivery list. I get so addled. It's probably why I forgot to put a bell on the bike of Jimmy of Knickerbocker Hills.
There's sure a lot of you poor little kids, so don't expect a miracle.
Jesus of Nazareth is a better bet than I am. He loves everybody and never leaves anybody out. I don't see how He does it though. Maybe it helps when you're the Son of God and don't have a lot of reindeer to take care of. If I were you I'd keep in touch with Jesus. After all, it's His birthday and He can do so much more for you than I can.
He's always been a better bet for all kids.
He never forgets anybody.
This will be real important as you get older.
There will come a time when neither I nor my elves will be able to do much for you. It's then that Jesus really shines.
Frankly, He makes me feel ashamed that I always treat the rich better than the poor.
But not Him.
He doesn't give gifts; He is the gift.
Take it from old Santa —
Jesus is the very best gift of all.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift (2 Cor. 9:15).
The North Pole
Calvin Miller is professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala.