Author: Stendahl


When I was a kid, my parents took me to a department store in Glasgow.   There was a Santa’s grotto in the toy section.  We could meet him in person.  At these events, a special ritual is enacted across the Western world.  The parents introduce the child to Santa and watch from a wee distance, while they tell him what they want for Christmas.  Santa coaxes a list of possible games, treats or toys, and returns them, making no promises, but assuring he’ll have a chat with his elves and see what they’ve got.  They lead the child away, but one parent sneaks back and ask Santa what they’re hoping for.  It’s a win-win.  The parents buy the right presents, the store moves product and the child has apparently scientific evidence that Santa knows what he’s doing.

At the age of five, I was plopped on his lap and pleasantly overwhelmed by the large, white cloud of candy floss beard in my face.  They took a wee photo and he asked me quietly,

“So whit do ye want?”

(Santa, if anyone wants to know, may be a legal resident of Lapland, but he has a Scottish accent so he must be an expat of some sort).  I drew a complete blank.  I said I didn’t know.  And then he said something very interesting I’ve never yet forgotten.  Here was his advice : –

“A lot of us don’t know what we want.

If you know what you want, ye might get it.

But if you don’t know what you want… ye won’t get it”.

In no time at all, I remembered I wanted a monopoly board, a space gun and maybe some chocolate.  I am a great deal older and my faith in Santa has often been shaken.  But I still believe that these words are gospel, a law of gravity, a philosophical axiom.  If you don’t know what you want, you probably won’t get it.  So you’d better start knowing it and wanting it and saying what you want.

Christmas is a time of kindness and gratitude, and we share with each other to recognize our common bonds.  If you are having a hard Christmas where you cannot show the care you want to for those you love, or if you are okay yourself, but you’re distressed by the poverty or the confusion you see around you, I invite you to make a resolution.  To decide what you want.  Something you can do that would be good to do.  I don’t presume to know what you want.  And Santa was right; a lot of us really don’t know.  The good news about it is wanting is free.  Dreaming is free.  Researching, checking, planning and talking it over is free.  Communicating, organizing and planning a course of action is still, (generally,) free.  Often the hard part is just knowing what you want.  But once you know, wanting it is absolutely free, I promise you.


And whatever it is, good luck with it, all of you





I am a realist writer from 18th century France.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *