“Look mommy, look!” The little girl waved her stubby, marker-stained arms enthusiastically, pointing towards the window. “Look mom, it’s snowing!”
Millie forced a smile as she gazed towards her daughter. “Yes Sarah,” she took a sip from her coffee. “It’s pretty, isn’t it?”
The child pouted. “You didn’t even look!” She watched her mother for a moment before wriggling slightly. “Um… Can we go play?”
“Are you done writing to Santa?”
Sarah nodded and picked up her letter from the floor. It was written on red construction paper. “I drew a snowman and a reindeer but I can’t show you.”
Millie stirred her coffee. “How come?”
“Cause then it won’t come true!” Sarah exclaimed, and her mother smiled a little.
“Put it in the mailbox, then you can go play. I’ll be out in a little bit, okay?”
The girl looked down. “Okay?” Millie repeated.
“Okay…” Sarah agreed, sulking, knowing that her mother wouldn’t be out at all.
Millie sighed. She felt tired. Once Sarah was asleep she would go outside and retrieve the letter from the mailbox. She would read that long list of all the things she wouldn’t be able to get for her daughter. Then she would smile and say “Oh Sarah, your letter was delivered to Santa this morning! Aren’t you excited?”
Then she would have four weeks to think of a way to explain to her daughter why all the other kids got expensive toys, and Sarah didn’t. She would have to explain why she won’t be able to dress up dolls with her friends, and that she’ll have to borrow all her books and games again.
She’ll have to explain why Santa didn’t come this year.
And she knew that she wouldn’t be able to, and that her daughter wouldn’t understand.
But when she did go out that night, she was optimistic. As she creaked open the mailbox, Millie told herself she would think of some way to make it work this year; that she would think of something. That maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Millie unfolded the red construction paper, shivering.
And as she looked down at her daughter’s list, Millie began to cry.
Right there in blue marker, between the reindeer and the snowman, sat eight devastating little words.
I want mom to be happy this year