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When Plan B is Almost Better Than Plan A

I had a plan, but nothing went as planned.

On December 1, I was going to help Mark with his letter to Santa—or rather, to a random volunteer from the Canada Post Santa Letter-writing Program—like we did the past three years. Then, I was going to give him the Kinder Advent Calendar—luckily, he hadn’t found it yet searching through my drawers.

Then, throughout the first week of December, I was going to do my Christmas shopping downtown Ottawa, promptly wrap the gifts and store them out of sight until D-Day.

Pretty straightforward, right?

You’d think so. On December 1, Feng and I had a combined fever of 80ºC, and suddenly, writing to Santa was no longer a priority unless I was promised he would personally deliver sweet drugs to make our bodies stop aching.

On December 4, Mark was coughing so much that his first draft letter was all wet.

On December 5, the letter was written but I also knew it was probably too late to mail it and get a reply. The official deadline is December 11, yet I didn’t want to chance it because Canada Post is already swamped at this time of the year and it would be frustrating to receive a reply after Christmas.

“Good job, Mark! Now, listen to me carefully. I want you to… close your eyes… no, wait. I want you to fold your letter, put it in the envelope, then close your eyes and make a wish.”

“Are we going to put the letter in the mailbox?”

“Just… close your eyes and make a wish. And stay in your room!”

I rushed downstairs, stepped outside, rang the doorbell, place the Kinder Calendar on his shoes by the door, then ran back upstairs.

“Who was it?”

“Don’t worry about it,” I whispered to Feng. “I’m just trolling Mark.”

Feng looked at me as if I was part of a weird dream he was having because of the fever. He swallowed a Tylenol Extra Strength and went back to bed.

“Mark… did you hear the doorbell?”

“I made a wish! I wished I loved you so much!”

“That’s nice! Hey, let’s go downstairs. OH MY GOD, WHAT’S THERE ON YOUR SHOES?”


“I KNOW! Must have been Santa dropping it off, then.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you troll your kid.

Still sick the following day, I totally forgot about the letter, which was still on Mark’s desk.

“Santa didn’t get my letter,” Mark complained.

The thing is, when you start something, you have to finish it.

“Huh. Weird. Well, imagine how busy he must be… give him a day or so.”

And these extra twenty-four hours bought me enough time to write a note signed “Santa” and replace Mark’s letter with my message.

“My letter to Santa is still…”

“Really? ARE YOU SURE?”

Mark opened the envelope.

“That’s NOT my letter!”


“’Ah, Ah, Ah’…”

“No, it says ‘HO, HO, HO’”.

“’Hi Mark’…”

“’Thank you for your letter.’”

“‘I will come’…”

“‘on the’….”

“’24.’ And then it says ‘Santa.’”

“There you go!”

Honestly, I didn’t think Mark actually cared much about the Santa Letter—the last couple of years, he failed to see why Santa would write back instead of just bringing gifts—but he has been reading the message over and over again for the past few days.

Note to self—next year, write something more inspirational.

“I mean, it’s pretty fucked up when you think about it,” I said one night, spreading Laughing Cow cheese on a slice of bread. “Half of the world spends time and efforts tricking kids into believing in Santa Claus, just for one day going ’ah ah! We lied to you! He doesn’t exist!’”

“I KNOW!” Feng replied, peeling a mandarin orange.

“Honestly, I don’t think Mark really believes that Santa exists. It’s irrelevant, anyway—he is looking forward to getting gifts, preferably big ones and many of them. He just accepts the story because, hey, why not? After all, we are like that too. I mean, we both claim we don’t believe in god—and we don’t believe in organized religion, for sure—but we’re still superstitious and we believe in karma. That’s the way it is. We all need a bit of magic, some hope and cool stories.”

Mark’s letter to Santa, December 2017
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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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