In A Letter To Santa

I’ve been digging through my boxes of memories these past few weeks, of things I saved that at one time seemed incredibly important and valuable to me. I have an autograph book that friends wrote in at the end of each school year. I have track and field ribbons from who knows when. I have my FFHS letter sweater and a Go Muskies button. I have letters written to me from friends when I was home sick from school and letters written with compassion when my father died. I have class photos and candid photos of friends. I have my father’s drafting kit with compasses and nibs and devices I’m not sure of. I have a special pen a friend sent me a few years ago after I wrote a column about favourite pens. But one discovery seemed to stand out more than many others. It was a letter I wrote to Santa Claus, pinning my hopes that my letter would yield me a Secret Sam Spy kit for Christmas, and I could live happily ever after, engaged in a life of Crozier espionage. I found the letter in my mother’s purse the next summer and well, the truth of life came crashing down on me. What was surprising about this letter was when it was written. 1965. I was ten years old. It seems surprising to me now that a ten-year-old would still believe in such things as Santa Claus. I have to say, I had a few tears at this discovery. Not tears of anything more than the loss of having had faith in something that far into childhood, the evidence of innocence still flourishing. Life hadn’t yet got at me, the way that life does. All the possibilities were still there and that included believing in some guy flying around the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and bringing me a Secret Sam Spy kit.

In the letter, I apologized to Santa for being a tomboy, an explanation for my request for a certain toy, so that he might understand. One shouldn’t have to apologize for such things. A girl can be a spy just as easily as a boy can. Strange how we are hard-wired at such an early age to make such distinctions. My mother told me my father was hoping for another son when I was born. I’m not sure that is a kind thing to tell a child, but I was determined to prove I was equal to any son. I’m pretty sure my father did not care if I was a boy or a girl, and he was grateful for my eagerness to be a farmer alongside him.

We’ve just celebrated another International Women’s Day. My teacher daughter was asked by a boy in her class to explain why there was no International Men’s Day. I remember being stumped by that question when my girls were young, not having an immediate answer and feeling shame because of my silence. Aimee explained to her student that we need to focus on those things that require change, where our behaviour needs amending to replace what seems an acceptable norm from a distance and replace it with intentional actions and choices that provides for equality.

We are not often interested in change that doesn’t affect us, so it is important to raise awareness on these specific days of the year. Do we worry about the whispered news of genocide elsewhere in the world when we don’t see it in our country. Do we worry about poverty when we are not poor. Do we fail to see the importance of education when we are educated. Do we see the importance of creativity and the celebration of the Arts in creating fully developed children when we consider ourselves well-rounded. Do we understand how a person can be taken advantage of by someone in power when we see ourselves as powerful. Do we require the ones who are marginalized and suffer the inequities that exist in their every day to educate us about what is going on or do we open our eyes and our minds to seek the truth and become fully engaged in the conversation. Do we join the march, not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing, because it challenges us to do better.