A Letter from Saint Nick
My darling children, and the thoroughly compromised grown-ups you seem inevitably fated to become:
For close to twenty years, some joker named Robert Devereaux has been chronicling my life. There were things he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.
Lately, he’s gone into my attempt to fix the horrendously flawed human psyche. Did that attempt succeed? I won’t spoil your fun by telling you.
I asked Robert (I always think of the once adorable little tyke, one of the damnably nice boys, as Bobby) to say a few words about his most recent attempt. Here’s Bobby’s reply to his readers:
“Lately, I’ve been trying to save the world through my novels. So far I have failed. I expect to continue failing. On that score I harbor very few illusions. Still, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a world changer. Abraham Lincoln is reported to have greeted Harriet Beecher Stowe with: ‘So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.’ And Huckleberry Finn, in which Huck conceals runaway slave Jim while fully expecting to go to hell for it, remains an inspiration. Then there’s Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle , which brought reform to Chicago’s meat-packing industry.
“Fifteen months ago, my wife died of ovarian cancer at the age of sixty-one. In her two and a half year decline, I heard her say more than once that if cancer finally took her life, at least she wouldn’t have to live through the disasters the human race seems unable to prevent, such power have we given those who put boundless greed over our and the planet’s survival.
“Do I sound bitter? Bitter I be. And bitter shouldst thou be. So kindly shrug into your leaden cloak of bitterness, yoke it across your shoulders, and join the parade of the damned.
“Twain, quite the curmudgeon in later years, wrote this: ‘Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.’
“And so, via Mark Twain’s bitterness and a world whose inertia is tending toward irreversible ruin, we arrive at Santa Claus Saves the World, part three of my Santa Claus Chronicles. Saint Nick is given the chance to reengineer the human psyche, to fix God’s botched job before it’s too late, hoping to outrace a critical tipping point.
“This being fiction, there are, of course, opposing forces, not the least of which is God Himself. Also active are the Tooth Fairy, her imps Quint and Gronk, the harrumphing elf Gregor, and Venga, a fallen golden robotic handmaiden of the Greek god Hephaestus.
“As I researched this book, I began making lists of human flaws. Let me tell you, those lists are unending. I have been kind to my readers. I have not tried to include every last flaw in my novel. We all know what they are. And it would have been so hard on the trees.
“No, let the token few I name suffice.
“On a happier note . . . hmmm, what could have I been thinking when I began this sentence? There is no happier note.”
Yes, sweet kiddies. I caught the author in a foul mood. But moods come and go, as you well know. He’s a jovial sort usually, and that joviality is as genuine as his despair.
That’s about it. Must get back to supervising our toy production and the planned delivery on Christmas Eve.
Don’t forget the milk and cookies, if you’re so moved. These days, I’m into almond milk and gluten-free cookies. But carrots are still fine for my reindeer. And any little note you care to leave. I love your notes—and you—to death!
The jolliest of ho-ho-ho’s to you and yours,