From Bradley Bazzle’s story “Gift Horse” (NER 31.4):
Gift certificates. Six years ago Santa Direct gave me a gift certificate to an electronics store. My wife joked that Santa hurt his back and couldn’t carry the new computer I wanted. When I was a kid we got everything we wanted. Every year my sisters and I made little lists on the day after Thanksgiving. It was a good day to get Santa’s attention, my father said, because he was hung over and sitting around his house at the North Pole. We made the lists directly in a memo pad my father kept, one page for each of us. There were twelve lines on each little page, so we could ask for twelve things. We spent most of the morning drafting and redrafting our lists before copying them into the pad. Most of what we wanted was books and games and toys, but even when we wanted something more expensive we got that too—chemistry sets, pogo sticks, a basketball hoop. One year we banded together, and each of us asked for a swimming pool. Under the Christmas tree in a little flat box with all our names on it was a picture from a magazine of a family splashing around inside a pool. I was the youngest and didn’t understand what this meant, but my sisters went wild. I jumped around with them and hugged them, and my parents were smiling. Ground was broken in our backyard for the pool the following April. It was a happy moment for the family, and we all stood in a line watching a fat man wearing a hardhat inside a bulldozer. I remember wondering if the fat man was Santa. Maybe he had shaved his beard.