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Dear Santa 

All I want for Christmas is a wooden boat with a sail. A cozy cabin cruiser with saucer-sized portholes and a hotplate for heating up the grog and a little spoked wheel for The Cap'n to grimly lash himself to when it comes up a blow. Nothing so big as to warrant a carved naked lady on the prow — not so big that I wind up haunting pirate bars looking for scalawags to join my crew, with the aim of knocking over ski boaters on Ouachita or DeGray for their Igloo coolers full of Bud Light and soggy sandwiches, but nice sized, enough to have some legroom at least. A boat, anchored way up a shady inlet, far from responsibility and the cell phones I solemnly ordered dropped overboard as we cast off, seems like a hell of a good place to be right now.

All I want for Christmas is for somebody to invent an assault rifle that shoots neon pink bolts of pure love, those models to be mixed in randomly with all the ones that sling plain old lead when they're crated and shipped to the darkest heart of America. That way, maybe the next time some nut in his camo busts into an elementary school or mall or church or gay bar with a head full of skittering spiders that pass for thoughts, the result might be, for once, the opposite of a massacre. The people talking to the reporters outside afterward can say, "I seen the whole thing! It was BEAUTIFUL!" CNN's crawl can read "12 hospitalized with uncontrollable giggles after mass shooting" instead of the nightmare residue that happens when projectiles meet flesh. The policemen whose bulletproof vests proved useless against a barrage of love can smile and shake their heads, sharing donuts and coffee with the dozens of blushing victims of the unprovoked act of senseless kindness, and the shooter, before they slap the cuffs on him and cart him off, can say: "You know, it wasn't my intention, but I think I really helped some people here today."

All I want for Christmas is a president who is smart enough to know how to spell "unprecedented," or at least smart enough to know how to run spell check. We live in an age of miracles, after all, where no one, not even the simplest and most addled billionaire, need ever misspell anything again.

All I want for Christmas is for everybody to quit being so damn tribal about everything, giving each other holy hell on Facebook and Twitter over which sports team full of gazillionaires is best, Republican vs. Democrat, Ford vs. Chevy, Velveeta vs. cheddar or Baptist vs. Methodist. As if any of that is going to make a damn bit of difference a hundred years from now, when our great-great-grandkids thumb past our faded photo in whatever the digital equivalent is to the shoebox full of snaps you keep under the bed. Well, maybe the Republican vs. Democrat thing will matter, what with Greenland melting and the silos in the Dakotas still full of nukes. But unless you've got $20 million in your checking account so you can buy an hour of focused attention from some D.C. suit, there's not a damn thing you can do about politics beyond a single vote anyway. So why call your neighbor an idiot about it?

All I REALLY want for Christmas is for you — yes, you, that person who is feeling a little or a lot afraid and vulnerable right now, in this age when chaos seems to haunt the land — to know that I'm with you, no matter what you drive or who you love or what your politics are; that even though I don't know you, I love you in the same, selfless way that people who barely knew me loved me once. I want you to know that though the world can be a dark and lonely place — a frightening place, a dangerous place, a place that can put your soul in peril — if you are ever in trouble, and I am there, I will do all I can to help until I can do no more. All you have to do is ask, and we will bear it together, whatever it is. How will you know me in a crowd, even though you might not know my name or face or gender? I will tell you how: Look for my strength, brother or sister, as I will look for yours. Look for the glimmer of my courage when the die is cast, as I will look for yours. Look for the one who sees you, as I will look for the one who sees me. Watch for me in that moment, my friend. Though you might feel alone, look for me and know: We are many. And together, there is nothing we cannot do.

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