Jef Rouner
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Dear Santa: A Political Christmas List

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Illustration by Shelby Hohl


Dear Nick (Saint),


It’s been a while since my last letter on my own behalf, though I do write one regularly on behalf of my daughter through that creepy elf delivery system you and Hallmark started back in 2024. An addendum to this year’s letter, by the way. Please don’t bring her a FitBit. It’s hard enough keeping her glasses on her face.


At this point, as I’m sure you’ve read, America is kind of messed up. It’s messed up enough that I honestly think the only way out of this hullabaloo is through magic, hence my contacting you. I have some suggestions for America’s Christmas haul this year that I think might help improve things around here long-term.


Number one: books. If there’s anything I can attest to as a writer and journalist over the last seven years, it’s that we have become a country of headline readers without the stamina to get all the way through an 800-word article and decide whether it was worthwhile information. It’s all memes and pictograms down here, Nick, and it’s eroding thought like Coke takes buildup off a car battery post.


We need something to read to try and jumpstart the old contemplation reflex. I suggest you start small with some good young adult novels or something. What about The Hunger Games? That seems appropriate at the moment. Maybe you could go with those cute Brad Meltzer history books for kids. Those are nice.


On a similar note, do you think you could score the hook-up on bootleg Hamilton video recordings? Nothing seemed to sum up the “liberal elites are ignoring us” sentiment like the phenomenon that is Hamilton. If middle America could see this thing everyone is talking about on the cheap, and maybe also realize that you can like something that maybe doesn’t focus entirely on how awesome white people are, they’d calm down for five bloody seconds and catch up to the rest of us.


How about some of those stuffed toys that talk back to you? If the legion of think pieces I’ve read since the election are correct, the most important thing in the country right now is that we have to reach out and listen to people in rural areas because their feelings are apparently so overwhelmingly important that it clouds their ability to tell obvious right from obvious wrong. I don’t really have the time for that sort of thing, so maybe StarLily the Magical Unicorn could do the job for me.


Speaking of jobs, I’ve been given to understand that “economic anxiety” was the driving reason that things got this way, despite the fact that wages are rising and unemployment is down. If some of these people could find more rewarding work then that might do something about the anxiety. Luckily, iTunes University can teach them to code. It’s free. You don’t even have to put it in the sack. Just set it up to download on their phone while you’re having milk and cookies, and they can wake up to a whole new world of employment possibilities.


Some games might help. Interactive media is great at getting people to empathize. I recommend Firewatch since it’s basically the story of a man adrift who has to come to terms with the places his life has gone to. If nothing else, it’s a really pretty walk in the woods game that can be very soothing. Or maybe Gone Home? Learning to appreciate LGBT people by unraveling the mystery of Samantha Greenbriar could be very useful now that we’ve made a conversion therapy advocate the second most powerful person in the country.


These are little things for a troubled populace, but it’s the little things, Nick, that tend to make all the difference. It’s easy to take a mass of resentment into a voting booth with you, but sometimes the spark of joy and hope can light that darkness. That’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? The candle we hold as we make it halfway out of the dark?


As for the rest, those who will be most affected by the next four years in a variety of harmful ways: Bring them stout plush bears that can withstand the squeeze of someone who can’t sleep for worrying they’re going to lose their health insurance. Bring them bath bombs from Lush to ease the ache of working two jobs to pay for college. Bring them frames for the pictures of friends lost to suicide.


And bring them my apologies for failing them. We let so much get out of hand, and now, more than ever, we need a little Christmas.


Yours in Yuletide,