Letter to Santa
Note: This “Letter to Santa” is the only clue that the police have in their Missing Person’s investigation of Jimmy Hollister, missing since the 7th of January2002. He was 14 years of age at the time of his disappearance. If you have any information, please call the Missing Children’s Hotline. Thank you.
Dear Santa Clause,
I just lost my imaginary friend. Her name is Sassafras, and I was hoping that you might help me find her. She’s not really imaginary, of course, but that’s what I called her when I told my parents that I’d lost her and had to find her. They saw me looking through the top shelves of the closets and wouldn’t let me keep looking until I’d told them why. I’d never mentioned her to anyone else before, so I wasn’t sure how they’d take it—but they thought it was cute, at first at least. But now I think they’re starting to worry a bit. They thought it was some game I was playing, but I’ve been searching now for more than a week and I still can’t find her. She’s never run away from me for more than a day before, and I’m worried about her.
That’s why I really need your help. I don’t want to make my parents worry and I can’t bear to think about Sassafras being out there all alone. It’s a long story, and I’ve never told anyone about the night I found her, but I guess I need to tell you.
That was the night that I saw you, Santa.
You may not even know or remember yourself, cause I don’t think you saw me that night—although if you know everything about everyone, like they say, then you’ve probably got it written down somewhere—If so, I guess you can check and see that I’m telling the truth, if you want to.
Anyway, I remember seeing you check that little list of yours and shaking your head like you must have made a mistake and come down the wrong chimney. Which I understand, ‘cause honestly, I never did believe in you before that night. I can’t even remember why I was still awake, now. But I know it wasn’t because I was waiting up for you. It wasn’t all my fault I didn’t believe it you. My folks never tried to convince me that you were real the way some kids at school said their parents did.
So whatever the reason, I wasn’t up because I was waiting for you—I don’t think I even knew it was Christmas Eve. I was just lying in my bed, thinking about what it would be like to tie my sister up and hang the heaviest tree ornaments from her nipples, using the fishhooks to pierce her flesh. (Sorry about that, Santa, but she and I still don’t get along too well; and I figure I might as well tell you everything, just in case what they say about you knowing everything is true.) Anyway, I’m lying there in bed when I hear all this noise outside. At first it sounds like the neighbor dogs knocking over the trashcans again, but then there was this thump on the roof and I heard bells ringing and the clomping of hooves, and then footsteps.
I always wondered how the other kids who believed in you figured you wouldn’t wakeup everyone in the house, if you and a bunch of reindeer were tromping around on the roof. And since that night, I’ve thought about it a lot more. I mean you were down right noisy, Santa. When my parents make that much noise at one of their dinner parties they usually end up having the cops show up at our door. But after thinking about it for a long time, I think I’ve figured it out. You must sprinkle some kind of magic dust on the house before you land, and it makes everyone fall asleep. Only I guess my house wasn’t the right one, so the magic didn’t work, or something.
Or maybe you travel in some kind alternate dimension, so usually people don’t see you—but somehow I did, on that particular night. I used to wonder how you could visit so many kids all in one night, and why you don’t freeze with the wind whipping by your face, as you travel so fast to get from one house to the next in the one hour you have in each time-zone. I read about time-zones in school, so I know that’s how you can deliver presents around the whole world while it’s still night, but it took you more than ten minutes just to visit my house, so I know there’s some other kind of powerful magic going on as well.
Maybe that explains how you get down those houses with little tiny chimneys too. You don’t really enter our dimension until you’re at the bottom. But however you do it, I know you came down the wrong chimney because of the way you were looking at that list, and then instead of leaving things you started stuffing them into that huge bag of yours. (Oh, don’t worry! I won’t tell anyone about that! My father’s insurance covered it all anyway. He’s rich. I didn’t even tell the police who came when my dad woke up the next morning and found all our stuff missing. I didn’t think they’d believe me, and if they did… Well, that wouldn’t be very good publicity for you, would it? I don’t want to interfere with all the good work you do, because I know why you did it, Santa. It’s a lot of work trying to get all those little fairy creatures to make enough presents for all the children throughout the whole world—and that year you must of come up a little short. Our house must have looked like some pretty good pickings. And you didn’t have to leave any gifts, because you knew my parents would give me enough that I wouldn’t notice not getting some from you.
There is one thing I’m curious about: do you keep all them work-elves tied up all the time? Shackled to their workbenches, perhaps? I must admit, I’ve always wondered what little things you have to do to keep them motivated. With so many toys to make, I know it must be a full time job just to make sure they stay busy through the whole year. And Sassafras doesn’t have the longest attention span—course, I expect she’s not the kind of fairy creature you use to actually make the toys, but most Elvin kind are known for being kind of frivolous, aren’t they?
Anyway, I saw you come down the chimney and when you accidentally knocked over your sack, I saw Sassafras escape. The leather cuffs on her arms and legs were each connected by a short length of chain. At first I wondered why, until I realized that it would be nearly impossible to keep so many elves busy at work if they were all free to come and go as they pleased. Do you use pucks and Orcs and Ogres and such to keep the littler guys in line? And if so, how do you keep the bigger ones from eating the littler ones, if you keep them tied up? I bet you must have a bunch of folks to go fairy hunting for you, so that you can keep a fresh supply of them coming in. You must have lots of really strong magic of your own, cause I figure Orcs and Ogres must have a pretty nasty streak. (I’ve often wished I had one or two I could set loose in my sister’s room while I watched what they did to her. I’d be kind of like watching a cat playing with a mouse before eating it, I think. Serve her right, the snotty little bitch. Sorry Santa, I told you I don’t like my sister much. If you check your list, maybe you’ll understand why. She’s bound to be even further down on the naughty list than me.)
Anyway, at first I couldn’t figure out why you didn’t notice when your sack of toys fell over and little Sassafras came tumbling out. And for that matter, what was she doing in there in the first place. I must admit, you had me stumped, for a little while. Then I realized that little fairy creatures like her were probably the source of the magic that you use to make your sled fly, and to carry around those large sacks of presents; and for that matter, to stuff all those presents into such small sacks. It’s got to be one of those sacks-of-holding, right? And if one elf fell out and you didn’t notice that she was gone, it probably means you had a bunch of them stuffed in there.
I’m not sure how you keep them from getting crushed, but I’m sure you have your ways. A bunch of crushed elves wouldn’t do you much good, now would they?
Once I’d figured that out, though, it wasn’t hard to see that if just one got out it probably wouldn’t change things much, and since you were adding stuff to your sack, the thing was going to seem a little heavier anyway. That’s what I figured, as I watched you float back up the chimney and listened as you hopped into your sled. It didn’t occur to me until later, to wonder why Sassafras never made anything lighter for me when I was carrying it with her in it. That’s when I realized that the magic wasn’t just in the elves any more than it was in you. It’s in the two of you when you’re together. Kind of like you’ve figured out how to control their magic, and harness it to do what you want to do—and somehow, it relies on the faith and belief of all us kids out here in the world. That’s why you only deliver presents to the kids who believe, while all the rest have to rely on their parents—which has always suited me just fine.
Anyway, when I was sure you were gone, I came out of my hiding place. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find Sassafras. Since she seemed to be trying to hide from you, I thought she might try to hide from me too. But maybe she realized that it wouldn’t be too easy to stay alive with her arms and legs bound. And it must be nice and warm in those present sacks, ‘cause her naked little body was shivering so hard her teeth rattled.
I think she wanted me to find her.
All I had to do was lure her out with a bit of hard candy. I had saved the wrapper and wrapped it back up so that I could stuff it in my pocket with out making a mess. I held it out to her, and she wasn’t smart enough to understand why she couldn’t taste it through the plastic, but she could smell it. It was driving her crazy, and that overcame her fear enough to bring her out far enough that I could nab her.
Her chains rattled and her little body felt cold and soft in my hand as I picked her up. I could feel her trembling, so I snuck into my sister’s room and stole some of the clothes from her Barbie doll. I had to take off her collar and the cuffs so I could put Barbie’s little blue leg warmers on her; and the tiny little white shirt that didn’t even cover her belly button. The hardest part was getting the tiny panties on her. She didn’t seem to like them much, and I suppose I can’t blame her. If you think about it, they don’t really do all that much to keep you warm, and that’s the only reason she ever wears clothes. During the summer I can’t seem to keep anything on her.
Anyway, I held her close to me under the warmth of the covers and somewhere during the night, I fell asleep. I was lucky she was still there in the morning because, as I found out later, she likes to wander. And until she got to know me better, she was a little shy.
It was a good thing Sassafras isn’t to bright, because I don’t know how I would have kept her from running away if I hadn’t had those cuffs and chains those first couple of days. And I had to take them off when we got into the tub! She started sinking under the water the first time I put her in the tub with her cuffs still on—kind of like an anchor around her neck. If the cuffs had been secured with a lock I would have found a way to cut it off. But they didn’t lock, so the hardest part was getting them off without hurting her. Then I had to figure out a new way to keep her from escaping. I almost lost her while I was toweling dry. But it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t realize how slippery she was until then. And I searched the whole house for her.
I finally found her in the medicine cabinet, just above the sink where I’d set her while I was toweling dry. She had her long little legs wrapped around my mother’s eye-lining pencil, wrestling with it like it was a snake. That was when I realized how much she was like a cat. Sassafras could become mesmerized (nice word, huh?) by a piece of string; and I was fascinated by watching her as she sprawled on her back, batting the string around with her arms and feet. I think that’s where I came up with the idea of using mother’s yarn to tie Sassafras up. It was small and soft, but strong enough that even one wrap was enough to keep her little limbs bound together. Our favorite game was when I’d tie her up and tickle her with the large fuzzy feather-pen my parents bought for a party a few years back. They let me keep it when the party was over. It was bigger than Sassafras herself, from the tip to the end of the plume. I could drape it lightly over her spread-eagled body and watch her squirm as I jiggled it. She was particularly fond of that game when I looped a strand of yarn around her waist, then passed the ends between her legs. She’d rock her hips back and forth, like it was irritating her, but I could tell she liked it.
Sassafras and I used to play together all the time.
I even took her to school with me sometimes, but I was extra careful to make sure that no one else saw her. I didn’t want them to take her away and say that I couldn’t keep her any more.
My parents say I shouldn’t accuse anyone without proof, but I think my math teacher, Mr. Smith, may have stolen her from me. Sometimes he takes things from the other kids. He calls it confiscating, but I just think it another name for stealing. Grown ups always say it’s wrong to do stuff, unless they’re the ones doing it. Then they give it another name and say it’s alright. I’ve been watching him real careful—but if he’s got her he’s doing a good job of keeping her out of sight. He’s probably smart enough to keep her at home, like I did most of the time. I wish I had all the time.
I miss Sassafras a lot!
We’ve been nearly inseparable for so long that I feel kind of empty without her. I know she liked being with me too, even though most of the time I didn’t give her a choice—because she was always tied up. But there were a couple of times that she got loose, and she was always still right there waiting for me when I got home. If she’d really wanted to get away, it would have been easy enough for her to do it those times. That’s why I think someone must have stolen her.
Anyway, that’s all I want for Christmas, Santa. Just to have my Sassafras back.
I know it’s not that likely she’ll be able to find her way back to you, ‘cause unfortunately it’s a big world and she’s not too bright. (It’s not her fault, she’s just got such a little head! That’s got to mean she’s got a littler brain—which I think is why adults tend to think kids are so stupid. But compared to the rest of a baby’s body the head is pretty big, so I figure that must mean we’re not quite as dumb as they seem to think) If you do happen to find her, or maybe if one of your fairy hunters finds her—cause she probably wouldn’t have escaped in the first place if she was all that eager to go back to you—but maybe you could just send her back to me? I don’t have a whole long, but I get five dollars a week for my allowance and I’ve been sticking all my extra money in my piggy bank over the last couple of years—after I buy some hard candy for Sassafras and me, of course. I know it’s not all that much for someone like you, who has to worry about buying enough materials to make presents for all the good little children around the whole world—even if there are fewer good little children nowadays than there used to be. But if you could just send Sassafras back to me, I’d do almost anything. She’s gotten me in trouble lots of times, with my teachers and my folks—she likes to tear things up, you know—but I don’t mind. I miss her an awful lot and I just want her back.
It doesn’t even have to be Christmas.
Really, you could just wrap her up in a little box and slip her into the mail. C.O.D. would be fine! My father would pay for it, I’m sure. And he doesn’t open my mail, so I’m sure he’d never know what was inside. Only make sure you give her a little bottle of water so she doesn’t dehydrate. It only takes a few days for the mail to be delivered, so she won’t starve to death, but a little piece of hard candy might be nice, too. She loves hard candy. It’s pretty much all she eats. And you may want to tie her up for the trip, so she doesn’t try to get out or anything. She’s very inquisitive and when she wants to she can climb out of just about anything. I wouldn’t want her escaping at the Post Office, around all those big machines and spinning gears.
Your friend and admirer,
P. S. By the way, Santa! I know you usually don’t give return answers to your letters, but if you can find the time I’d kind of like to know who it is that writes all that stuff down on that little list you check. Just between the two of us, I’m pretty sure you don’t know everything all on your own, because I saw the way you were checking that list—and I’m pretty sure you came down my family’s chimney by mistake. But I also know that you have all the information there on that little pad of yours, so I figure someone must have put it there. I sure would like to know who! Even more, I’d like to actually see it some day, but I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned that. It’s just a dream—but I bet it’s the most awesome little pocket-computer-like thing in the world! And if you ever did want to show it to me, I swear I wouldn’t tell anyone. I’d even be willing to help you make presents, or I could become one of your hunters and track down all those fairy creatures for you, if I could just see it! That would be perfect, cause then I could search for Sassafras. And I know you must need help keeping all those little elves in line. If I could do that, I know I wouldn’t even mind so much, if I don’t get to see Sassafras again. I know I shouldn’t have even asked and you’re probably too busy to answer this letter, so I’ll understand if I don’t hear from you. You’re still my hero; and my favorite person in the world—next to Sassafras, of course.