At the start of this New Year, just when I had almost given up hope that anybody would answer the calls to utilize this editorial space, I received an interesting surprise. / respected Elder, Santa Claus, e-mailed The Nation. Hope you enjoy. -Will

Well, it was touch and go there for a while but I finally got all the presents out to all the kids out there. Had to leave a few pieces of coal in a few politicians’ socks but not as many these days as you would think.

I guess the threats of revealing who’s naughty and who’s nice are finally working.

Speaking of that I think it’s time to get a few things off my chest and let my beard down, so to speak. I know most people think of me as German or English and I feel that it’s time to clear up some of those misconceptions. I admit to speaking those languages better than most other ones but in reality I live at the North Pole. When was the last time you heard of them living there? Actually I’m Norse on my dear old dad’s side and Inuit on my mother’s side. My wife, Mrs. Claus, is Cree by the way.

The reason why I’m talking now is I’ve reached the ninth step of my 12-step program in AA (the result of all the drinks that were left out for me). Part of this step means coming to terms with who you were and what you want to be. It also means apolo-gizingto people if you feel you’ve hurt them.

First of all, I would like to apologize to the elves. I drove the little fellers crazy with my demands for more toys. I thought it would make me happy, but as they say more is not always better. I only wanted the best for all you whippersnappers out there. But sometimes I know you guys just need a lit-tle TLC, and not another Tickle Me Elmo. January 02, 1998

A while ago, I snapped at one of my elves after a fiery meteor almost took out the Pole.

I am sorry, little elf. As for the meteor, it looked like it was heading for Whapmagoostui. A prayer goes out to them.

Rudolph, Donner, Blitzen & Co. are up in arms over the political correctness craze. They want me to write that they don’t want to be called “reindeer” any more. They prefer “caribou” or “atuukw.” Ho, Ho, Ho. The 90s will be the death of us all. Yes, the jolliness is hard at times.

In reality sometimes that’s all we can do. Make do with what we have. We can’t be perfect or happy all the time even though that would be nice. We can only work towards that.

Santa knows that some of you might be feeling low, especially after the holidays. For myself, all that time on the road (or in the air) can put Saint Nick in a foul mood, especially after listening to 12 caribou snorting all night and getting mucus flung in my face from those noses. I feel like having a drink! Oops. Those days are over…

Just by talking, the burden always feels less heavy than before. All people have to work to make life better. It doesn’t happen magically. Even I, an old man past 400 years, still learns and works toward making myself a better person. This year I received my 100-years-straight pin for all my sober years. I would please ask the parents not to leave any outfor me in the future. As for Rudolph, his nose is bright enough and he has to fly.

And kids, thanks for all the letters. Even Santa needs to read or hear a good word everynow and then.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.