I was an imaginative child, and imaginative children can be dangerous, especially during the holidays. What separates the adorable from the dangerous is a single belief, namely that Santa Claus employs a whole network of magical elves that can make all the toys that just can’t be found in stores.
I don’t know how my parents survived in the days before the internet. They dropped more hints about what I wanted Santa to bring me than I did. “Maybe you’d like a ___,” they’d say, hoping for a quick run to Toys ‘R’ Us. “No,” I’d reply, musing on the limitless magic of the holiday season, “I’m going to ask Santa for a stuffed jackalope.”
I asked Santa for a lot of stuffed animals over the years and had really developed a diverse ecosystem in my room: tigers, seals, alligators, okapis… All that was missing that year was a jackalope, the mystical horned rabbit of the American West. If anyone could get it for me, it would be Santa and his team of magical elves. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, Santa’s got this one in the bag.
I sent my letter, and for good measure, I asked Santa directly the next time I sat on his lap. He grinned and told me he had just come back from jackalope hunting and had shot off the antlers of a real live jackalope! It took many years to be shocked by the notion that Santa had shot at a jackalope; at that age, all I could think was “Wow, they really are real!”
Christmas morning came, and no stuffed jackalope peered from my stocking. Instead, placed delicately amid the crumbs of chocolate chip cookies, were two honest-to-gosh horns. To heck with a stuffed animal, here was a piece of an actual magical creature, given to me by another. I couldn’t wait to show my proof to my classmates. My parents just breathes sighs of relief and went for some more coffee.