8 December 2011
Hope all is well up there. Things continue to go reasonably well down here in San Diego and at Mar Vista high school. Most of the kids here really are nice—not really so naughty except for a few who don’t read and maybe an even smaller number who turn in IRA’s (independent reading accountability—its an assignment in Crawford’s class) without reading—but you know who they are—I mean you’ve got the naughty list, right?
Here’s the thing. Since you’re going to be in the home of every kid—I mean you have to visit even the naughty ones to deliver their lump of coal, right?—could you do something for me? I don’t even want a present in the conventional sense—I mean, I do, but I’m willing to trade in my present request for this: While you’re in the homes of my peers could you please re-appropriate all the cell phones and Ipods and video games of these children?
With all due respect, sir, these gifts are not good for these students. I’m worried that these sweet kids will become self-absorbed and less thoughtful because they are in thrall to these devices. Watch them for a while—older kids even go on dates and “text” virtual others while sitting at dinner ignoring their actual date. They’re losing the ability to talk to each other. I’m not sure they understand the difference between a digital signal and an actual human being any more.
A more cynical person might suspect that this is your plan, Santa—you are getting older and I imagine your job is rather tiring. If you allow kids to possess these soul-suffocating devices, more of them will grow more self-absorbed and subsequently more naughty. Then you don’t have to make and deliver a gift for those kids next year—a lighter workload for you and the elves. But I can’t really believe you’d be involved in such a thing—I mean you are (in part, at least) evolved from St. Nicholas. He was generous enough to provide the dowries for those orphan girls to save them from a life of shame, right?
So, since I choose to believe that you are interested first in the growth of goodness/niceness (and of course in the reduction of naughtiness) I feel comfortable asking this favor of you. I’ve been good (not perfect, but good). This is my Christmas wish. Please re-appropriate all these niceness-destroying devices.
You could replace them with books.
505 Elm Ave.
Imperial Beach, CA 91932
Some highlights from the letters of the kids in Crawford’s classes:
. . . I would like the economy to get better so Christmas won’t be so stressful
And my other brother, who hasn’t made the best choices in life, get him what he needs, not what he wants.
I want world peace. Oops, wrong thing---that’s for the beauty pageant.
I want free health insurance for everybody! And free admission to universities just like in France! Or a plane ticket to France and a home there! If you can’t do that then I’d like an IPod.
I want for you to put the idea in people’s heads that Christmas is celebrated because Christ was born and that you were doing good deeds but that people carried it a bit too far into consumerism.
My very adorable turtle requires a light that goes out about every two weeks and costs $20. I want a lifetime supply of lights for my turtle . . .I won’t ask for anything else.
. . but don’t forget that the poor kids need you more than I do so don’t worry about me, worry about them.
Don’t give me anything. I have done wrong to my family and they have always been there for me so make their dreams come true.
I want my sister to get a life and move out so I can finally have my own room.
For my deported brother in law to be allowed back in so he doesn’t have to be away from my nephew and sister . . .and for my parents to forgive each other.
Help those who are addicted. Help struggling families pay the bills and get through these hard times.
Somehow I don’t feel Christmas spirit this year. I’m kinda sad. So I guess what I want most for Christmas, is Christmas!
My wish is for my mother, not for me. Help her get the money to pay for her house in TJ.
So we come to this time and I don’t even have money for gifts for my family nor for my SAT test so my only wish right now is can you make my family happy for all that I can’t give them right now? Could you grant me that wish? PS. And one of those BF’s that is perfect for me that everybody talks about.
Santa, I really want peace with myself and maybe a novio wouldn’t be so bad 4 me this year but I don’t mind if it doesn’t come.
I would like a new straightener for my hair because my hair is getting really nappy . . .and a pony and some oreos and maybe a boyfriend for my mom.
I’ve applied for lots of jobs. Help me get one so I can help my family pay the bills.
My parents were very generous this year so I don’t need much. Just make sure my friends have as good a Christmas as I do.
I want my mom to stay home instead of going away with her stupid boyfriend and leaving me by myself. And my brother’s dad to come home because he really wants to see him.
I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me to help my sister with her life. I just wish I could be a better brother for her. . .another thing I want to be is patient; that would help me be while talking to my parents . . .
Salud, felizidad, amor y prosperidad para mi y los que amo! Ps. Si se me olvido pedir un novio.
I honestly have everything I could ask for—a loving family, bread for every day and a roof over my head . . .you can skip me this year and give to those less fortunate.
For me and my mom and my brother to stick together.
Please help our President really make the change we voted for.
It’s not like Santa is going to come to my house—not even Santa wants to go to TJ right now.
I hope my dad visits me . . .the economy is going down the drain and so is my family.
College tuition, an A on my Gatsby paper and a puppy.
I hope you help people who need it more than I do.
Help and protect our new President.
Teach my dad to ask about my boyfriend’s character, not about his ethnicity.
If you could find my father a job . . .my mother works but its not enough to pay the basic bills.
Could you fix the world so that everybody could be content and not always want more and kinda balance things out so things could be more peaceful?
Please help my father succeed in his job as well as my aunt
I also would like to see my dad for the first time.
A world with less bigotry and more food? World peace and Nintendo Wiis for everybody!
So could you help my father’s business pick up again so things will be less stressful for my parents?
and give my mom the reassurance that she is loved and cherished—something she’s been doubting because of my behavior.
I want to be a kid again and get rid of all this stress—I want to feel like everything will be ok.
Help my sister feel better about herself.
I want to be able to see how good my life is. I wan to be happy and enjoy it and not be so negative.
My parents work so hard. They’ve worked so hard all their lives. Is there some way you could make them happy?
I’ve been good except for when I used my phone in class. Could you please ease my dad’s stress and maybe get me some cheesecake and penguin pajamas?
My stepdad has been out of work for about six months and it’s getting very stressful worrying about bills. Can you help?
Please help my brother help himself and do the right thing. If you can’t do that please help my mom pay the bills. It’s getting really hard.
Please help my grandpa get better. I want him to remember who I am.
Please help my friend believe that there is good in the world even though he’s had such a hard life.
We need help to pay for my dad’s surgery. If he has the surgery he can go back to work. But we can’t pay for it when we can’t even pay for rent and food and gas and electricity.
And Santa? Mr. Crawford says I need an alarm clock.
My brothers are too young to understand what happened to my mom. Could you help them have the best Christmas ever?
I’d like to fight with myself less and laugh more.
I want to have the gift of faith to believe that love actually exists.
My wish is for my mom. She’s been through a lot and I’m not making it any better.
Take care of our troops. They risk their lives to protect our country.
If you could help my brother make better decisions and make it so my mom doesn’t have to work so hard. Maybe if my dad could get his old job back.
And if you could get us our own apartment or get mom’s boyfriend of 15 years to actually propose to her then I’d believe that miracles are real.
Take the cancer away from my Grandma and make her feel better.
Help my English teacher have a better attitude about Texas.
Maybe if you could help us all want less, we’ll be in less need as well.
I need something that can magically keep me organized.
I feel like I’ve lost myself this year and I don’t know who I am. I’m confused and I’d like to get my confidence back.
Having things disconnected because we’re late on bills is really hard. And there’s too much fighting in my house. I wish we could be closer.
Could you somehow bring my whole family together for Christmas?
Could you make my brother happy again. He’s been so very sad because of the navy and his marriage.
My brother should live with us instead of his father. And could you help with my mother’s illness?
Help my mom with her gambling problem and help the people who are dealing with bullies.
I wish I could have some real friends.
If the economy could just get better.
If I could just have another year with my grandmother.
I want the conflicts to stop so the troops can come home.
If my parents could be home for once, instead of always working.
And if our president could really make a difference for good. And a dinosaur.
Some emotional support once in a while.
I would like to have the strength to make myself have better study habits.
Prince charming. The die-hard romantic, the genuine guy, the sweet guy, the honest guy.
My family all getting along and my uncle out of jail even if it is for one day.
When my boyfriend is with his father this Christmas, help him see how much his father loves him and supports him.
I don’t like stumbling onto nice things without working for them, it makes me feel undeserving . . .nothing worth having is easy to obtain.
I want to obtain the qualities that noble people have. I want to learn not to give up, to work hard and to succeed.
I want a permanent home where I can feel safe. And I want my mother to be happy.
I just want to finally be happy and for mother to stay off drugs and fix her life.
I don’t want to go away because I want to spend my Christmas here with her.
I want my teacher to give me another chance even though I plagiarized.
I have been good—and my surfboard broke.
I wish people would care more. The generation I’m in—what’s going to happen in the future?
I want to be motivated to do better with my life. I need something to scare me into focusing on school.
If my mom could just be cancer-free.
I wish I could have a better functioning immune system so I don’t always worry people.
I don’t want to ever get hurt again. I’ve learned my lesson.
During this time of year when some people get so selfish could you enlighten them and help them focus on what’s truly important.?
If you could give my father the gift of insight so he could actually see what’s going on and see the opportunity for change. And give my mom more hope and strength—especially on the days when she cries about the hug mess we’re in.
Please keep my family healthy—especially my brother and if you could just send an elf that looks like me to take my math final---the score doesn’t have to be perfect—even a 90 percent will do.
I could earn my own money to buy material things, so maybe if you could just help my parents get along like they used to—if they could just respect each other and learn how to act like adults.
People get more focused on the newest electronics and less interested in sheltering the homeless and feeding the hungry. If there’s anything I want for Christmas, it’s a change in this attitude; a change from the focus on oneself to the needs of others.
If you could help find a cure for cancer.
I don’t want any presents just a fresh start for my family because we have been struggling financially.
I know some people who need help so they won’t lose their home.
I want to be less vulnerable. I’ve been hurt too many times.
I need to stop being lazy and go to college and make something of myself. And could you help the girls realize that not all guys are the same?
I need a new beginning, something to help me change my life.
I want my mom to get out of jail and go to rehab. And if you can’t do that, can I please have a puppy?
All I ask is that my mother’s chemo goes well. She tries not to show it but it’s really hard. Help her get through this and end up stronger and better please.
Santa, I think I’ve got a lot of growing up to do.
Have a great holiday, scholars.
May we all find peace.
Sincerely, Miguel Paniagua Salsipuedes Cienfuegos Buenaventura