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Santa's sack will always be full for certain people

Dec. 1, 2000

Dear Santa,

How are you and Mrs. Claus? I bet she's really worried about you making your annual trip around the world, especially with Ebola outbreaks in Africa. Just some advice, don't eat any cookies in a house where you smell rotting flesh.

How's Rudolph? I hope he and the other reindeer are getting along. It troubles me to think that he would be picked on because of his red nose. By the way, I stopped singing the dirty version of his song this season, so throw in an extra present for me, OK?

Listen, Santa, I want to talk with you about something that's really got me thinking. How come some kids keep getting big, nice toys, year after year? On Christmas morning they bolt down the stairs to rip open their presents. After lunch, if you were to drive through the neighborhood, you'd see fathers and sons playing with their new toys in their front yards.

But when kids in developing nations wake up on Christmas morn, all groggy after a long night of batting flies, they wake up to see five siblings dying of starvation and disease. Their mom was killed by a band of rebels who came last week to cleanse the village, and their father has been gone for months.

Now Santa, I'm not trying to be a backseat sleigh driver, but I don't understand this. One year, Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls were being sold for more than $1000 right before Christmas. One of those dolls could

have fed lots of people. Why don't you just give those people whatever they want, like you do for my friends and me? It just seems unfair, don't you care about the less fortunate?

Love,

Jeff

Dear Jeff,

Thanks for your letter. Rudolph is just fine; he's overseeing toy production for me this year. He's really got a talent for flogging insolent elves. Mrs. Claus says hello, and thanks for the tip about the virus in Uganda.

Yeah, about your letter. I really am glad you're interested in this issue of poverty. I don't get many letters from people your age, mainly because they're too busy planning out and executing their own careers to worry about anyone else's problems -- which is perfectly normal.

Jeff, I've noticed that a lot of your contemporaries use the phrase 'less fortunate' to describe a person with financial difficulty, but luck doesn't have anything to do with putting food on the table. People born into a rich family aren't lucky -- they're just babies. Their parents made sure they had a good home.

Why, just look at your family. I remember when your ancestors emigrated from Denmark in 1879. They moved to Wisconsin to become dairy farmers and merchants, and then 100 years later, you were born in a hospital to two loving parents.

Now what if your ancestors came here and weren't successful. Maybe they worked a few jobs, but ultimately spent the money on booze, and passed the trend all the way down to your father. What if your dad didn't feel like working or going to school, but still felt the need to have kids. So he has a son who grows up just like him -- only to pass it on down.

I go to houses like this all the time, and it seems to me that their poverty comes from this lack of intelligence and concern for others. People choose to live between paychecks. The ones who spend their money on labels and lust, they are the ones who eventually become poor.

Now I wouldn't be Santa Claus if I didn't say that whole 'money can't buy happiness' thing, and it's true. Your family is more important than financial security -- everybody knows that. But it's harder to be happy when you're poor, so work hard to be successful.

Love,

Santa

(Jeff Scheldt is a junior journalism major from Houston.)