AT THE HELM: A FATHER'S LETTER TO SANTA

December 21, 2007 11:00 pm

Dear Santa:

I hope you received the letter and wish list my four-year-old girl sent you. By the way, we don't really have room for a real pony, so a toy one will do just fine.

Alia is looking forward to baking some cookies for you and Rudolph. She'll leave them under the tree. I'll try not to scarf them all.

Anyway, if you don't mind, I'd like to leave my list, too. I know it's late notice, but please do what you can.

~~~

Santa, please let my little girl grow up still believing she has the funniest dad and the best mom in the world.

Let her have many friends that will fill her days with great adventures, skinned knees and permanent laugh lines.

The kid has inherited her grandparents' artistic talents, so bring more crayons, ink pens, paint and brushes. Nevermind that our fridge door and walls are plastered with her imaginative stories of ponies, dogs and family members. Perhaps you can take a few pictures with you back to the North Pole?

Speaking of imagination, she's chock full of it. Please sprinkle a little bit of your magic dust on mom and me to prevent us from doing anything – ever – that could possibly squash it.

She has a hunger for books and is starting to read, so please make sure that, as she grows older, she still wants to sit with me before bedtime and read "Clifford the Big Red Dog."

She cares deeply for others and always wants to help, so never let her be without opportunities to do so. And while you're at it, sprinkle a little more magic dust on her parents so we can continue to set a good example.

Let our house always be filled with singing, shouting and laughter – the official sounds of little girls.

She's a great tree climber, rock scaler and puddle jumper, so perhaps you can pull a few strings with the U.S. Olympics board and get her a spot in the 2020 games.

Please give her the understanding that, while mom and dad can't always be there to kiss her boo-boos or carry her to bed, our love is unfailing.

She thinks she can do everything by herself all the time. Please don't let anything, or anyone, convince her otherwise.

You know, Santa, how fragile a child's feelings are. The world can be an unforgiving place, no matter how nice you are to everyone. So please grant her the courage to persevere and be nice to others, no matter what.

Please find and nurture the little boy that will one day become her husband. And give my little girl the good sense to pick him out from all the less- than-perfect candidates that will surely compete for her attention. Let her mother and me – and her grandparents – still be around when he walks her down the aisle, and when they have their first child.

Fill her heart with enough compassion so, when she grows up and realizes that her parents are less than perfect, she can forgive us for the mistakes we surely will make while raising her.

Give her extra strength the day she learns the truth about you, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy.

And while you're flying around the Earth on Christmas Eve, Santa, check with God to make sure he has heard our prayers for this child.

Be careful out there, Santa. And give Rudolph an extra pat on the head for Alia.

Love,

Scott