Paper Wishes

by Jane Davitt

"Jimmy, it's Christmas Eve and you didn't write your letter to Santa yet. Don't you think you should? Dad says if we don't tell Santa what we want, we won't make his list and we'll get nothing."

Stevie's eyes are anxious and Jim can't stand that. Not at Christmas. He could point out that if their dad hasn't gotten around to buying them anything by now, it's too late because the stores are closed, and it doesn't matter how many letters they send flying up the chimney, but Stevie still believes, so he goes to get paper and pencil.

Once he gets started, after a carefully polite opening asking after Mrs. Claus and the reindeer, because Stevie's leaning over him, breathing in his ear, it's sort of fun. This is make-believe; it doesn't matter. He can ask for anything he wants, and like any ten-year-old, he's got plenty of ideas.

So the Super Sonic Powered Racers & Smash Up Derby Set goes on the list, along with the Vertibird Rescue Helicopter and an Air Blaster Gun he knows he'll never get. Stevie wanders off to ask Sally for a piece of cake and Jim goes wild; a pony, a twenty-speed bike, heck, a motorbike…

He fills the paper with dreams, signs his name, and hesitates. Stevie's lost interest, but Jim doesn't like lying and if Stevie asks later, and he might, Jim wants to be able to tell his brother that the letter's been sent and tossing it in the trash doesn't count.

And if it's really going to fly up the chimney, consumed by flames, sent on the wind to the North Pole or whatever the heck is supposed to happen to it, then it might as well have something that Jim really wants on it. He turns the paper over and scrawls a postscript.

The next day, he gets a couple of toys off the list, the tags written in Sally's careful writing, and an envelope with money from his dad, who tells him that the sales are the best time to buy.

He doesn't get what he really wanted. Mom doesn't even call.

He tells Stevie there's no such thing as Santa later on and gets sent to bed for making his brother cry, but he knows that's not why Stevie sobs himself to sleep.

Stevie's list had been a lot like his.

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