Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Dear Santa,

If you should happen to look down from your sleigh this Christmas Eve and see my building in Alphabet City, you won't see a chimney. And I won't even be home. But if you decide to drop by anyway, there are some very nice people living in my building - and some of them have adorable kids - so I'm sure you'll find plenty to do and maybe even some cookies and milk.

I have a few wishes this year, Santa.

I'm trying to start a knitting club. I showed my students a knitting project that I'm working on, and a whole bunch of them expressed an interest in learning. The cold weather's coming, and if it's too cold or snowy, they can't go outside to play during lunchtime. And we don't have enough space in the gym for all those kids to run around. So I was thinking a lunchtime knitting club would be fun... But I don't have the money for 15 sets of needles and all that yarn! I wrote a grant, Santa, which will eventually be posted at Donors Choose, but if you find a few skeins of colorful yarn and a bouquet of knitting needles in the bottom of your sack, well, you know where to find me.

And Santa? I could use a few good books and the time to read them. Nothing strikes my literary fancy these days, but I'm eager to read more... maybe you've read something good during the off-season? Music and clothing are always appreciated, too! Especially music.

My students want video games for Christmas... the new X-Box or whatever. And hey, if you've got enough to go around, why not? But if you could drop a book or two their way while you're at it, I'd really appreciate that. And I know some of them could use a little peace and love in their homes, and others a little more attention, and a few are probably wishing, deep inside, for the disappearance of an abuser. They won't write that in their letters to you, Santa, but I hope you can read between the lines.

If you have any pull at the Department of Ed, get them all into good high schools for me, places where they'll be cared for and challenged and, in every way, educated. I don't know if Joel Klein celebrates Christmas, Santa, but he and I are both wishing there were more of that kind of high school out there. Think you can do anything?

And while we're on the topic of education, I wouldn't mind a raise - my contract's way past due, and New York's not getting any cheaper. I've been good - taking classes, reading up on good teaching, working hard - and I really think I deserve a little more money. I'd like to buy a place someday, I'd like to travel more, I'd like to give a bit more to WNYC and Doctors Without Borders and the Central Park Conservatory and all those other deserving organizations...

One more thing, Santa: a building of our own. This building is always too cold or too hot (today it was both!). There's never enough space for assemblies, phys ed, even indoor recess - not when we have to share with the other school. Plus, it looks like the worst kind of medieval dungeon - especially the cafeteria. And the acoustics are terrible! Find us a small building of our own, with shiny new science labs, a proper gym, a clean, well-lighted place for the kids to eat lunch, and maybe even a little yard with a garden - find it and put a big red bow on top of it, and I'll know you were thinking of me.

Santa, you may not be a US citizen, but I'm sure you followed our election this year. I'm afraid, Santa. I'm afraid that the decisions made now are going to pollute our air and water. I'm afraid that much of the progress women, gays, and people of color have made over the past few years will be rolled back. I'm afraid that the poor are going to keep getting poorer, and that the children coming to my classroom will be hungrier. I'm afraid for the people in Iraq - the soldiers from the US, and the citizens of Iraq. If you can help the elections go a little more smoothly there, if you can help our actions there turn into something good, please do that. I know that Muslims don't really believe in Santa, but they'd thank you anyway... My uncle may be going back to Iraq to fly MedEvac transports this summer, but I dearly hope that the country is safe and he is not needed (though I realize that would be an awfully quick turnaround). Maybe you prefer to stay out of politics, but if you get involved, I hope you take these fears and hopes into account.

I've tried to be good. I think I've done all right. I've certainly learned a lot about myself and the world this year. I know I'm asking for a lot, but hey, that's why we write to Santa come Christmas each year. I'd be grateful if you grant any of my wishes.

Happy flying to the man in the big red suit,
Ms. F.


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