Dear Santa,

Don’t worry. This isn’t another letter full of requests like the millions that flood your North Pole mailbox each year. It’s just a quick note to see how you’re doing. Are you exhausted? Because I am, and I’m only prepping the holiday for three kids — unlike you, who are taking care of these three plus every other kid on the planet. Even for a magical being like you, that can’t be easy.

I mean, sure, you have the flying sleigh. That’s got to be faster than standing in line at airport security and then waiting an impossibly long time for your group number to be called just so you can shuffle onto a packed airplane, like cattle with carry-on bags. You also have the elves, who I hear are both happy and helpful. “Elf help” does sound great this time of year, but then again, all that elf management probably brings plenty of HR issues to deal with, not to mention paperwork.

Then there’s the reindeer. Feeding a herd of them must be a real chore. Every time I turn around lately, we’re out of dog food again and I have to schlep back to the store to buy more. If your reindeer are anything like my two dogs, they probably need a certain amount of playtime — reindeer games — just to keep them from driving you nuts.

The older I get, the more respect I have for what a big job it is to be Santa. The expectations are insane, right? As a writer, I know what the pressure of a deadline feels like, but no one has ever expected me to do as much work as you do in a single night. No wonder you’re stress-eating all those carbs.

I worry about your self-esteem, Santa. I’m sure you’ve noticed that you’ve been body-shamed over the years. I recently re-read the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” and these lines jumped out at me: “He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.”

Well, that just struck me as unnecessarily rude. I mean, what do people expect of you, Santa? They flood you with requests and expect you to deliver worldwide in a single night. Do they make it easy on you by providing a house key or a garage entry code? No, they want you to land on the roof and stuff your plump little body down the chimney. Then they want you to put gifts under the tree and scarf down the cookies and milk they’ve left out — all over the world! Who wouldn’t have a case of jelly belly under these circumstances?

So, I just wanted you to know that I respect all the work you’re doing to make this month magical. We mamas tend to deck the halls, wrap the boxes, cook the food, make the lists, check them twice, take the photos, send the cards and so much more. It puts us in danger of suffering from holiday burnout.

There have been times I’ve wanted to curl into the fetal position beside the fireplace and take a long winter’s nap. Sometimes I pray for snow days if for no other reason than to have a good excuse to slow down.

I hope you take the concept of “self-care” seriously this year, Santa. You can’t be everyone’s holiday hero if you’re stretched as thin as tinsel and eating your feelings just to cope with the stress. Book yourself some time in the North Pole Spa, if you have one, and get a massage and a healthy salad. If anyone has earned some much-deserved “me time,” it’s you.

Your friend,

Gwen

P.S.: I wouldn’t mind finding a spa gift certificate under the tree this year, in case you’re feeling generous.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Her book is available on Amazon.  

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