1. Rather than a God of occasional disaster rescue miracles, I want a God whose miracles prevent the disasters in the first place.

2. Rather than a God who needed to retreat in order to leave room for human freedom and love, I want a God who finds a less painful way to make freedom and love work.

3. Rather than a system set up so that those who suffer most are also the most vulnerable (usually those who are poor), I want the wealthy to be the most vulnerable. An increase in money beyond one’s necessity could inhibit the body’s production of antibodies.

4. Rather than children being at the mercy of nature and of other people, I want no one to die or be physically or emotionally traumatized before turning twelve years old. Nobody. And the only ones who die between thirteen and eighteen should be those whose decisions represent a clear and present danger to others.

5. For every unethical action, there should be an equal and opposite reaction—immediately. If you inflict suffering, you should immediately suffer accordingly.

6. I want a small indicator button, like a low­ battery light, on the prominent C7 vertebrae that protrudes slightly on the cervical spine at the base of the neck between the shoulders. A gentle red light would glow forty-eight hours before death is irreversible, when the downward spiral toward unconsciousness or pain has won. It would indicate time for final goodbyes with loved ones and that a final welcome from God is imminent: “You’re released from this life. Welcome into the next one.”

Dear Santa,

I’ll start by admitting that I haven’t been very good this year.

I drank too much and did many things that I regret. I wished terrible things on people that I hate. I hated people. I haven’t gone to church. I haven’t given to charity. I haven’t finished my book…four years later. I have cursed and said horrible things to my wife that have made her cry. I’ve lied—many times. I have pissed away way too much money on alcohol and office supplies at Staples. I have considered sending someone a dead cat in the mail (though she did deserve it).

All in all, it’s been a banner year. A real barn burner. And that doesn’t even count my failing to find a job and thus putting all of my financial burdens on my wife.

But I’m trying, Santa. I have seen the error of my ways and I’m trying to make it to the Nice List. Ask my therapist; after $585 in co-pays, she’s seen how hard I’m working. Or at least, how hard I’m thinking about working.

So if good intentions curry any favor with you, big guy, I would like to offer you my Christmas wish list at this time:

First and foremost, I would like a high-paying full-time job: one that’s flexible enough to allow me to write, sleep in some days, have afternoon sex, and keep my present part-time job, which I like because it allows me to have lunch with my friends. I would like this job to be fulfilling and mentally invigorating, and I want to not hate myself at the end of the day when I drive home in non-rush-hour traffic.

Second, I would like a major publisher to offer me a very large advance on my first book, and a fat deal on a second book, which I’ve yet to begin writing. If you could also make both books land on The New York Times’ Bestseller List, that would be very nice of you.

Third, please make that certain someone in my life (who shall remain unnamed, but you know who she is) kick her alcohol addiction problem. Her family would really appreciate it, and at least some of them are on the Nice List.

Fourth (and I realize that I may be treading on God’s territory here, but I figured it can’t hurt to cover all my bases), please make sure that my dad makes it through his surgery and has a full recovery, and that none of the cancer comes back. Make sure my mom is healthy, too, and that both of them live very long and happy lives.

Also, I’d like a black Toyota Prius hybrid for my friend Nicki, houses in Boston and Florida for my parents to retire in, a GPS system for my wife, some new ski equipment for my sister, a spouse who won’t cheat for my friend Ben, and more time off of work (though without less pay) for my brother to spend with his daughter.

Oh, and for me, I’d also like a 24-inch iMac computer with a 3.06 GHz processor and a stable where I can ride horses for free whenever I want.

I don’t usually ask for this much, Santa, but 2008 has been one hell of a year (thus, the excessive drinking). If it helps at all, I’m already planning to leave you extra cookies and a tin of the good nut mix with extra cashews.

If you’re unable to fulfill this request, please simply leave a note in my stocking containing the winning lottery numbers and the date on which I should play said numbers, and I’ll try to take care of this list on my own.

With love to your Kris Kringled Highness,

~ Laura Waldon


P.S. – I realize that I forgot to thank you for the Cabbage Patch Kid you gave me in 1986. If the events of 2008 are some sort of karmic retribution for that oversight, please accept my sincerest apologies and my belated thanks.