December 20, 2017

A letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa:
     Best I can remember, my last letter to you was in 1956.  Even though we didn’t have a
chimney, you always managed to land your sleigh and slip into the tiny apartment in the back of my dad’s funeral home. 
     One year, you left an electric vibrating football game and a big bag of plastic army men under the tree.  The next year, I promised myself to stay awake to see whether you’d roll in a red bike with fat whitewall tires. I even slept on the top bunk so I could spy on you through the narrow glass transom above my bedroom door. 
     My plan didn’t work, but I did awake before daylight.  Yes!  You had read my letter.  I was too excited to eat my oatmeal, so I bumped down the steps and set sail on the sidewalks of West Orange Street toward First Street.  I didn’t stop pedaling until I had made that round-trip four times.
     I will never forget the thrill of discovering what you brought on Christmas mornings.  These days, I don’t wish for toys.  However, I have some requests for you to consider.  These gifts aren’t for just me.  They’re for thousands of friends who love our hometown as much as I do.
     You see, Santa, we are very concerned.  Actually, a better word is alarmed.  Unless a giant waste-management company changes its mind, our small community is going to be burdened with a very big environmental threat—a danger that will last forever.
     When I was a boy, my parents shared stories of their childhood Christmases.  They were warned that if they weren’t “good little boys and girls,” Santa would leave them a bag of switches and lumps of coal in their stockings. 
     Santa, we don’t believe Wayne County has been bad enough to be punished with millions of tons of toxic coal ash in the Broadhurst landfill.  Why should our great-great-grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren be “switched” with that poison?
     So, Santa, what we really want this Christmas can’t be crafted by your elves in their North Pole workshop.  Our wish is for the world’s richest man to use his influence, as the largest shareholder in Republic Services Inc., to encourage the corporation’s leadership to rethink its risky plan for our ultrasensitive ecosystem. 
     Deep down in Bill Gates’ heart, we don’t believe he can support the harm toxic coal ash can do to our community.  And we certainly don’t think he needs the money.  Please, Santa, will you share a copy of my letter with him?
     And, Santa, we would be grateful if you would bring the foresight and fortitude to some of our local leaders so that they will not be intimidated by this multibillion-dollar corporation. 
     Santa, we recognize the emotions and complexities wrapped up in this controversy.  But in the spirit of the holiday season, I think both sides of the issue should remain open to searching for an amicable, “good-neighbor” resolution.  Indeed, a worthy goal would be “peace on earth and goodwill to men” … starting right here in Wayne County.
     Thank you, Santa, for reading my letter.  Staying up past midnight is even harder now than it was in 1956, but I will leave a glass of milk and cookies for you.
     Merry Christmas,


Dink NeSmith