The Santa Letter 2012

Last year the final flicker of childhood was smothered. My daughter, who for the previous two years had launched a vicious campaign in search of the truth behind Santa Claus, climbed onto the bed which my wife and I share all but demanding to hear from our mouths what she knew to be true. There was no actual Santa Claus.

The boy was easier. Fact is I cannot recall the moment in which the noble story became the noble lie. However the clarity came, my recollection was that it was without remark. The girl was the polar opposite. There was a quick exit when as soon as the words left my mouth. The word “Liar!” trailed behind her as she jetted from our room. My wife too became filled with sorrow, knowing our final child would cease to experience the excitement of Christmas Day with the idea of the bearded gentleman.

It is now a family fact that if you do not believe in Santa you do not get presents from Santa. The lie has become blackmail.

On the lighter side it is an element of family tradition. While what that tradition has to yet have a meaning beyond a form or greedy materialism (Santa’s sole purpose is mostly stockings, if anything), we still go through the motions of leaving out the milk and cookies. This year while my not-s0-little girl was baking sweets for the fat man I made it clear that Santa now prefers Almond Milk. What I was not expecting was a continued embrace of the whole drama from my son’s hand.

This requires some back story.

Amidst the aforementioned investigation by my daughter, a specific inquiry focused on Santa’s “Thank You Letter”. For every note that was left, I would pen a thank you while my wife would leave the reindeer food. Once the doubt crept in my youngest brought to my attention that Santa’s handwriting looked strangely like mine.

In steps my son.

Graciously accepting a position in the propaganda machine, Evan took pen in hand and in 2010 wrote the final thank you which served to selfishly extend Sara’s belief. It was with great joy that in waking up Christmas morning 2012 to find the following by an empty glass of milk and plate of chocolate cookies courtesy of my son.

Dear Sara,

I hope you enjoy this last cookie. I saved this milk for you as well. It was warm by the time I arrived, and I carry my own milk anyway.

I put the cookie in a plastic baggie so it would stay fresh for you.

I crocheted the bag out of reindeer drool and elvish mustache hair.

It is very transparent, yet it is strong and safe. Anywho, enjoy the cookie, I sprinkled some dwarf nose hairs to brighten up your day.


p.s. I’m Mormon

There is meaning here that I must find. All that is needed is a few months of over thinking it. For now it is the gift of family.




Quick Shot: The Character Behind Being Self Sufficient

BOB SELF/The Times-Union Dean and Kim Black and their daughter Alanna, 12, load up their plates at a buffet-style afternoon meal. Read more at

I came across this piece while having a wonderful breakfast at Lillie’s Coffee Bar, consisting of unsweetened herbal tea (cold) along with an egg and cheese breakfast croissant . Some free advertising for Lillie’s, the atmosphere helps make this quaint establishment. Nothing too fancy on the menu but I was happy with my breakfast sandwich and the tea was very memorable. That night a jazz band was playing and the courtyard was packed.

Back to the reason for the writing.

My brother-in-law, Larry Figart, is an arborist who works for the City of Jacksonville. His knowledge of plant life is constantly mined when I am with him. He also dabbles in growing vegetables and has recently become a bee keeper (fresh honey for Christmas.) Since my wife and I seem to kill things we try to grow I have held off on attempting to sow my own fruit and vegetable garden, along with something as simple as a sunflower. While the article below did nothing to calm my fears that anything other than consistent and time-consuming attention would suffice when attempting to become a suburban farmer, it did serve to remind me that the time invested reaps something more than food for the table. It is a character building burden of love.

The idea that growing your own food can serve to alleviate your shopping bill is a fantasy I gave up some time ago. I fully understand, and was actually reminded of it this summer, that time and money put into gardening more than likely will cost you in the end regardless of what you harvest. As noted, it requires time and attention, something this blog from 2008 notes in detail.

But is that really the point? So one might spend a few years in the red. Is there not an experience that is obtained from working the land? This article seems to answer that question with a resounding yes. As the father Dean Black stated:

“It’s a labor of love,” Black said. “I’m also teaching my children an important life skill. They’re going to learn it, and one day they’ll find a use for it, or maybe not.”

I think you will find the comments of the children the most interesting, if you are not already exposed to the benefits of being self-sufficient. What this family does extends to actual hunting so my admiration and envy is a bit inflated.