The Siuslaw news. (Florence, Lane County, Or.) 1960-current, December 23, 2017, SATURDAY EDITION, Page 4A, Image 4

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    4 A
❘ DECEMBER 23, 2017
Siuslaw News
P.O. Box 10
Florence, OR 97439
❘ 541-902-3520 ❘
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redress of grievances.
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A different kind of Letter
to Santa: A Christmas tale
From the Editor’s Desk
As we approach the eve of Christmas
tomorrow, we thought it appropriate to
take a break from our Letters to the Editor
for this edition. In their place, I’d like to
share a Christmas tale based on a true-life
experience. It’s a mixture of fact, whimsy,
hope and belief that a heartfelt wish is the
cornerstone of life’s most important magi-
cal moments — particularly in an age
where our constant need to be “plugged
in” to the world often competes with
being plugged into those in our lives who
are within arm’s reach. That said, our sin-
cere thanks to all of you for sharing the
magic in your own way, every day, with-
in our community...
e looked very out of place sit-
ting alone in the flight terminal,
his arms folded over a
Superman backpack, and large brown
eyes peering out from beneath his base-
ball cap. A few seats away, a keyboard
recital was being performed by a busi-
nessman wearing Bluetooth headphones
and chastising someone at “headquar-
ters” about overspending.
“I said gifts for the immediate staff
only. That means Carl, Jody, Jessica and
what’s-her-name — the gal we hired last
month,” he instructed, keyboard clatter-
ing continuously. “Yeah, her — Loni.
But that’s it. I never said anything about
the sales department. What? Of course
you’re included with the immediate
staff. Get yourself something.”
The boy shifted, causing his plastic
chair to squeak a bit as he leaned toward
the businessman. “Hey, Dad…”
For the first time, the man’s fingers
left the keyboard, just long enough to
wave his son to silence.
The boy obeyed, and hugged his
backpack a little closer to his chest.
“Hold on a second,” Laptop-man
said, cupping the microphone. “Hey,
Alex, keep an eye on this for me. I’m
going to the restroom.” He slid the com-
puter onto the empty seat next to his son
and made his way through the crowded
terminal, still talking into the headpiece.
Alex watched his dad disappear, then
brought his gaze to the laptop’s glowing
screen. It wasn’t a look of intrigue, or
even mischief. Reaching over, he
pushed the device forward, teetering it
on the edge of the seat. He sat staring at
it, the debate of whether or not to push it
to the floor evident on his face. After a
minute, he thought better of it and slid
the laptop back on the seat.
“You should’ve done it,” I said, star-
tling him. I had been watching the
events unfold for the last few minutes as
I waited at Portland Airport for my
friend to arrive from Dallas.
Slowly, an uncertain smile material-
ized on the boy’s face, then quickly
faded. “My dad would be pretty mad.”
“Madder than you?”
He shrugged.
I looked up at the departure board.
“You guys live in Chicago, huh?”
“My Dad does. We’re gonna spend
Christmas together.”
Does your Dad know that? I won-
dered, but nodded without comment,
deciding instead to change the subject.
“Did you see Santa this year?”
He shook his head. “I wrote him a let-
“What did you ask him for?”
The boy withdrew into the chair, sud-
denly interested in the large, red zipper
running along his backpack. He traced it
with his finger, averting his gaze for a
time before finally whispering, “Only
Santa can know…”
(Note: The next part of this story is
pure speculation, based on a hastily spo-
ken eyewitness account. And a hand-
written note bound for the North Pole…)
Still talking into his Bluetooth, Alex’s
father emerged from the restroom stall
and squirted soapy gel into his hands.
“Are Alex’s presents there yet? Great.
What did I get him?” he asked, rinsing
himself, then pressing the hand dryer to
life. “That sound’s good. What else? ”
Suddenly, flurries billowed from the
dryer, covering his hands with what
appeared to be snow.
“What the…? Hold on a second,” he
said, shaking off the cold, white powder.
He moved to the paper towel dispenser
and cranked the handle.
Christmas wrap emerged and, along
with it, a letter addressed simply:
To Santa Claus
Next to the postmark, the image of a
mittened hand pointed to the words
“Return to Father.” He studied it curi-
ously, then flipped it over and noticed
his son’s name above the return address.
“You get that from the towel dis-
penser?” asked a man who was standing
at the next sink.
“Yes… yes I did.”
“You going to open it?”
Uncertain, he rubbed his chin. “It says
‘Return to Father,’ and that’s me, so I
guess I should, huh?”
The other man stepped to the hand
dryer, thought better of it, reached for
the towel dispenser — then simply
wiped his hands on his pants. “I’m not
sure what’s going on, but I know I’d
open it,” he finally said.
With that, Alex’s father peeled back
the lip of the envelope and extracted a
piece of notepaper. Unfolding it, he
immediately recognized his son’s print-
ing, and felt himself skip a breath.
Dear Santa,
If you give me a new dad, I promise
I’ll never ask for anything ever again.
Love, Alex Riley.
His father stood staring at the note,
oblivious of the man reading over his
“Sure ain’t no ‘Hallmark,’” the man
Wordlessly, Alex’s father refolded the
note and carefully slipped it back inside
the envelope, then absently stuck it into
his coat pocket. As he left the restroom,
a muffled voice could be heard emanat-
ing from his headpiece — which was
now in the trash. Mr. Riley made his
way back through crowd to the terminal,
his footsteps awkward and uncertain.
As if retracing a once-familiar path that
had become neglected and overgrown.
Over the loudspeaker, boarding calls
for Chicago had begun.
“My dad’s coming back. I have to
go,” Alex said, and stood from his seat,
backpack hanging off one shoulder.
As his dad approached, he studied
Alex for a moment, then reached out his
hand and nodded in the direction of the
terminal gate. They had only gotten a
few steps when I noticed the laptop still
sitting on the seat.
“Hey!” I yelled, waving it in the air.
Mr. Riley stopped and looked at me
through the crowd, shrugged and then
boarded the plane with Alex to Chicago.
More than a bit confused, I set the
computer down and wondered to myself
about what had just happened. That’s
when I saw the man sitting just a few
seats away — and the identical look of
curiosity on his face. Looking up, he
noticed me staring.
“Listen, in a few minutes, I’m leaving
for New York,” he blurted. “I’ll proba-
bly never see you again, so I can tell you
this.” He moved closer and, with his
hands clasped tightly in front of him,
spoke of what he’d seen in the restroom.
When he finished, the two of us sat
wordlessly, neither of us certain of each
other. That’s when we noticed the laptop
screen, which I’d left open, and these
words scrolling continuously from top
to bottom:
Merry Christmas!
And from everyone here at Siuslaw
News, a Merry Christmas to all of you.
— Ned Hickson, editor
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The White House
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Washington, D.C. 20500
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
TTY/TDD Comments:
Gov. Kate Brown
160 State Capitol
900 Court St.
Salem, Ore. 97301-4047
Governor’s Citizens’ Rep.
Message Line:
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden
221 Dirksen Senate Office
Washington, DC 20510
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley
313 Hart Senate Office
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-3753/FAX: 202-
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio
( 4 th Dist.)
2134 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
State Sen. Arnie Roblan
( Dist. 5 )
900 Court St. NE - S-417
Salem, OR 97301
FAX: 503-986-1080
Email: Sen.ArnieRoblan@
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( Dist. 9 )
900 Court St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
Email: rep.caddymckeown
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Jay Bozievich
125 E. Eighth St.
Eugene, OR 97401
FAX: 541-682-4616