By Sean Dietrich

We have about a month until Christmas, and I’m asking people a simple question on Santa’s behalf. He actually asked me to do this.
Well actually, it was Santa’s secretary who called me ultra-long-distance to ask.
Or, if we’re getting super technical, it was his secretary’s assistant’s intern, Stacy, who called me. Santa has a lot of people on his payroll. But hey, he’s tax exempt, so who cares? Stacy tells me the elves get great insurance, with full dental.
But anyway, the question Santa wants to know is: What do you want for Christmas?
There are no limits to how you answer. And nobody will judge you for what you want. Granted, if you ask for something like a 2020 Range Rover Evoque, forest green, with a sunroof, people might snicker at you and call you a shallow, narcissistic, self-important, gas-guzzling pig who is partly responsible for the perpetuation of American greed. But Santa won’t think that.
As it happens, a little boy (Brayden, age 8, Missouri) actually sent me his Christmas list. Which is what inspired the idea for this column. Along with Santa’s phone call, of course.
Brayden asked for:
—A swingset
—Bluetooth earbuds
—A real bunny
—Red duck tap
—Checkered Vans
So now it’s your turn. Maybe you want something odd, such as a gift certificate to Golden Corral or a coin-operated pony ride. Maybe you want a ski-resort vacation. A reverse mortgage. A pet alligator.
Maybe you are a kid who is being raised as a Primitive Freewill Fundamentalist against your will and your parents don’t believe in celebrating Christmas because it was originally a pagan holiday and in your household your parents believe that Santa represents Satan.
If you live in a house like this, listen to me carefully: Your Christmas is probably going to suck. Send me a letter, pronto. I’ll get it to the Big Guy.
Whoever you are, you should definitely know upfront that you probably won’t get whatever you ask for. That’s just how Santa works. I know this from experience.
When I was a kid, every year I used to ask him for a silverbelly-colored Stetson cowboy hat.
Isn’t that stupid? I don’t know why I wanted it so badly. Especially when you consider all the horrors facing humanity like world hunger, Middle-Eastern land wars and reality-TV singing contests.
But the year after my father passed away, I really wanted that dumb hat. Finally, my mother broke the bad news to me gently.
Mama explained that I would not get a cowboy hat because Santa couldn’t go around giving away pricey Stetsons made of genuine 10X beaver pelt to little boys. Santa wasn’t made of cash you know. He had a lot of elves to feed. And Mrs. Claus, who kept running up Santa’s credit cards with all those Botox injections, wasn’t making anything easier.
Even so, I could not get that hat out of my mind.
Years later, I was a grown man on a road trip through North Carolina for the holidays to visit family. I stopped at a gas station. Attached to the station was a Western-wear gift shop. And I saw The Hat.
It was illuminated by an unseen spotlight. I heard distant choirs singing. It was a silverbelly Stetson. The price was $250. It fit perfectly.
But I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. It was way too much money. So I put the hat down. I walked out the door. And to this day, several years later, I sort of wish I would have bought it.
It’s okay to want things. Expensive or cheap. Big or small. Seen or unseen. Maybe what you want for Christmas is more complicated than hats.
Maybe you have a 6-year-old son recovering in ICU, and you just want some good news before Christmas morning.
Maybe you have always wanted a Roy Rogers official guitar from the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog, even though you are a 71-year-old man.
Maybe you want your whole family simply not to strangle each other this year.
Maybe you need a friend. Maybe you want to feel pretty for once in your life. Maybe you’d like not being stressed out for one day. Maybe you want to wake up to sunshine. Or to visit Costa Rica. Or Sheboygan.
Maybe you want a cute girl at work to notice you. Maybe you miss your son who is away at college. Maybe your mother or father passed away, and you want a sign from above to show you they’re proud of you.
Sometimes it feels good to simply tell someone what you want. So tell me. And I’ll tell Santa. No matter how strange, selfish, or bizarre your request. Christmas is coming. And even though we are strangers, we’re all in this together. Unless of course you’re a complete wacko. In which case, we’re related.
So leave a comment, email me, or send a handwritten letter c/o Santa’s Helper, 226 Hideaway Bay Drive, Miramar Beach, Florida, 32550.
Write a few sentences about why you want what you’re asking for. I will compile a list and maybe even mention your letter in a column. And I’ll do my best to get your words to the white-bearded man who can do something about them.
Please don’t misunderstand me, you probably won’t get what you ask for. But I can promise you this: I love you. And so do others. And well, the great thing about Santa is, you just never know.
I’ll start the ball rolling. Santa, I wear a size 7 ⅜.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South.