by Nick Paleologos
The last time I saw you—or thought I did—was back in 1962 on Christmas Eve when I scurried to our back door only to be told by my mother that you had just ducked into a cab and dashed off. That’s right, she said you took a cab. I now know that was baloney. You were actually in a sleigh on our roof at the time. But mom was feeding me a line of misdirection to cover your tracks. I get that. Mom doesn’t remember the incident. Actually, she doesn’t remember much of anything anymore. Which is probably for the best because it seems that her cab story was merely the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg of lies I’ve been fed ever since.
Mom was doing her best. She meant no harm. Neither did my teachers when, each and every school day, they had us all stand up straight and tall, beside our desks—hands over hearts--and pledge allegiance to “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Let me tell you Santa, the way things are going, God may soon be demanding a retraction.
Last month, the Registrar of Deeds for Southern Essex County in Massachusetts—a guy named John O’Brien—said that his office has been a “crime scene” ever since 2008. He said that 75% of the foreclosures sought by Bank of America, Wells Fargo & JP Morgan Chase (among others) were completely fraudulent. That’s 40,000 families being kicked out of their homes illegally in just one half of one county in one state in the country. Which means, Santa, if you’re delivering presents to any of said addresses (or millions of others like them), those families may not live there anymore.
Since nobody from any of the crooked banks will be going to jail for their crimes against America's middle class, can you please put them on your “naughty” list? While a piece of coal in their stockings is a small price to pay for what they did, at least it’s a start.
Also Santa, please be especially sensitive when you visit Staten Island New York, Cleveland Ohio, and Ferguson Missouri this Christmas Eve.
In Ferguson, there’s a lady named Lesley. She had a son named Mike Brown. He was a big, burly 18 year old kid who had just graduated from high school and—like a lot of teenage boys—got into trouble occasionally as he tried to find his way in this crazy world. He liked to play Call of Duty—Zombies and he never had a criminal record. Mike was killed by a police officer. The cop, who fired 12 shots—two directly into Mike’s head, said he had no other choice. Mike was unarmed. I don’t know what that policeman is doing this Christmas Eve. But I’m pretty sure Lesley will be crying.
Also Santa, there are six kids on Staten Island who will never see their father again. Their dad’s name was Eric Garner. He was jumped by a bunch of policeman while he stood on the sidewalk with both arms raised. They wrestled him to the ground and choked him to death. I know because I saw the video. It’s very tough to watch. While being choked, he pleaded with the cops. “I can’t breathe,” he kept saying. He said it eleven times.
When you finally get to Cleveland, Santa, I know you were planning to leave a little something under the tree for twelve-year old Tamir Rice and his fourteen year-old sister. But now he’s gone too. You see, a few weeks ago he was at the park across the street from where they lived, playing with his toy airsoft gun, when a Cleveland cop pulled up in a squad car and shot him dead—no questions asked. The boy’s gut-wrenching murder—which was also captured on video—happened in less than three seconds.
Santa, do you remember when my son was a teenager and you brought him a toy airsoft gun and a zombie video game? In those days, he too was a big burly kid, who occasionally found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when the local police in our tony Boston suburb showed up. But everything worked out fine and he’s graduating from college next year.
I’m an adult now Santa, and I know you have your limits. You can’t bring that Cleveland boy (or any of those other victims) back to life, or fill the heartbreaking void their families will endure from now on. I’m also pretty sure that even you can’t make the words “justice for all” ring true for me again—the way they used to when I was nine. And I’m kind of sad about that.
Still Santa, I do have one small request this year--which is definitely doable. If there’s any coal left after you finish with those weasel-y Wall Street bankers, please put the rest of it inside the stockings of a few select police union chiefs. You know the ones I mean. Just maybe, coming from you, the message will finally sink in: that they disgrace the uniforms of the vast majority of decent American cops by standing in front of TV cameras making excuses for the murderers in their midst.