Dear Santa –
Forgive the delay as I’ve been meaning to write you this “thank you” letter for, well, about a year now. Suffice it to say, I was distracted from my intention to put pen to paper and express my gratitude to you by the very gift you left for me last year. Coal is an interesting sedimentary rock isn’t it? Yeah, thanks, man. This year, however, I hope that you might be a bit more environmentally-conscious and consider bringing, say, a hybrid car or even a windmill if you’re still on this energy jag or whatever.
You should know, I gave last year’s coal to my junky neighbor who mistook it for the fabled Springs “black crack.” She smoked it and now she has black lung. So, good work, dude. Maybe you could bring her a respirator.
In the meantime, I’ve dug up my annual holiday column, which you will recall is a riff on Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” a.k.a. “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” You will note it depicts you in a mostly-positive light, which, if you remember correctly, was not how it went down on the night in question. If your gift-giving doesn’t improve this year, be assured, Santa, next year I’ll print the truth. Just say’n.
* * *
‘Twas a wine country Christmas and all through his cellar
Were stowed bottles of vino and this lucky feller;
His name was St. Nick and Sonoma his pride
As his schedule permitted he’d come here to hide
My host remarked “Now, don’t judge a wine by its label”
Which made me afraid of ending up under the table
“All things in moderation,” he said with glee
As he began opening bottles – one, two and three!
“Now, Ledson! now, Landmark! now, Kamen and Castle!
On, Gundlach! on, Bundschu! on Haywood and Hanzell!
Let’s pop some corks and fill up our cups
We’ll drink upside down just to say “Bottom’s up!”
Champagne gushed like geysers, merlot poured like rain
Zins went straight to my head and the cabs to my brain
He said “Every bottle’s a vacation, every sip a holiday!”
As he washed down pinot with a fine chardonnay
My teeth had turned purple, my cheeks had gone red
I’d say “Just a taste” but a carafe came instead
Now the cellar was spinning and my view was a blur
An eloquent drunk, I made poetry of slurs
“Damn, you drunken elf, I’m going to bed,”
as visions of cirrhosis danced through my head
I crawled on my knees, for I’d forgotten my swagger
I’d decline a straight line but would be happy to stagger
As I lumbered and lurched toward the cellar door
he brandished a corkscrew and simply said “More.”
He throttled a bottle and commanded me “Drink”
“‘Tis the season,” I reasoned, as I drank to the brink
His generosity proved as grand as his cellar was vast
But who will drive the sleigh after our vintner’s repast?
He tugged at his beard, his sparkling eye winked
“That’s why I’ve got elves, why what did you think?”
Embarrassed as I was at my implied accusation
He guffawed from his belly and poured another libation
Now, I’m not one to moralize, especially in carol
But the fact remains when one’s over the barrel
Designate a driver or a get a taxi on the line
And Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good wine!