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(There - I got it out of the way early, and I won't mention it again. Just think of how nice it will be around here next week, when we can get straight to the posts. Speaking of which ... )
“Dad, I need to talk to you about my Christmas list to Santa!”
My 6-year-old daughter approached me with this remark about 2 weeks ago, after looking at the calendar and realizing that Christmas was less than a month away. Her statement was delivered with the exact sense of urgency you would expect from a 6-year-old writing the most important essay of her life.
The twist to this story is that her emergent tone wasn’t focused upon her own gift list; she had long since determined what her top choices were. Rather, she was concerned about how she could assist me. More specifically, she started the following conversation:
Her: Remember last year, when I asked Santa for a pair of running shoes for you, and he actually brought them?
Me: Yeah, that was cool. Santa’s awesome.
Her: I was thinking I could ask for something for you again this year. But you need to tell me soon so I can finish my list.
Me: OK … I’ll think of something soon, and let you know.
Last year, she surprised me by asking if there was anything I needed from Santa, so I jokingly told her to put me down for a pair of trail running shoes. And then – wouldn’t you know it? – Santa came through and actually brought them for me. Have I mentioned that I’m a big Santa Claus fan?
I had forgotten about that turn of events in the 11 months since, but my daughter remembered it well. Not only that, but she wanted to do the same thing this year and make it a tradition. Have I also mentioned that I’m a big fan of my daughter?
The trouble was, this conversation took place less than a week before the Western States lottery, and I wasn’t sure what my spring race schedule would be - and, by extension, what training gear I would need – until after the drawing. So I put off her requests for a few days until I saw the lottery results.
Then I went to her room, and we had this discussion:
Me: Hey – I know what you can ask Santa for this year, for me.
Her: Great! What is it?
Me: I’m doing a race next summer where I’ll have to run all through the night, and I’ll need a bright flashlight so I can see in the dark while I’m doing it. Can you ask Santa to bring me a flashlight?
Her: OK … but do you mean the kind of light that you wear on your head, or the kind that you carry in your hand?
(I mean … how many 6-year-olds know that trail runners use both headlamps and flashlights? I’ve mentioned how much I like this girl, right?)
Me: The hand-held kind. I’ll use that and my headlamp at the same time.
Her: OK – I’ll go write it down right now.
And that’s exactly what she did. Immediately below her requests for an American Girl doll and clothes for her teddy bear, she wrote the following:
… and a flashlight for my daddy so he can go running in the dark.
She didn’t specify that her daddy was thinking of a Fenix L2D CREE 6-Mode LED model, but I’m fairly certain that Santa will figure that part out. He seems to do pretty well that way.
Last week, the letter was sealed up and mailed to the North Pole. Now all we have to do is wait a couple of weeks to see what shows up under the tree on Christmas morning.
My daughter understands that not all of Santa’s wishes get fulfilled, but she seems pretty confident that her request for me will be granted. I have to admit that I share her sense of optimism about this one. Like I said before, Santa’s awesome.
And here’s the best thing about the gift: next year, when I’m using my new flashlight, it will be a handy reminder of the bright, considerate little girl who brokered the Santa deal for me. That’s sure to be a comforting thought as I’m running mile after mile through the darkness.
December 14, 2007
Wait - before we start ...