What color is Santa? Santa is a calico!

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

You’re very lucky. I feel generous today. I almost didn’t send you a letter at all this week. Destroying Redesigning the Christmas tree and sitting on the research papers your mom has been grading has been keeping me busy, but I heard about the kids who got in a fight about Santa and decided that you might need me to explain the obvious to you.

One of the kids said Santa was white, and another kid said Santa was black. Then they got into this huge argument, and everybody started yelling. I can settle this. They’re both wrong.

Santa is a Calico.

He is a bunch of different colors, and the color the kids see is the one that he changes into. I say “he,” but Santa is sometimes female, so don’t get too stuck on that. I’m just too lazy to talk pronouns right now. I’m a cat. If you feed me, I don’t care what you are. Your litterbox is your business.

Santa is different for everybody because everybody is different. You get what you need the most when you need it the most. And what Santa looks like, and what Santa brings, shows what you need that year.

Rich kids at school will be bragging in January about getting piles of presents that are bigger than they are. Big whoop. Do you know why their Santa has to give them so much? It’s because they are already slightly jaded. They’ve been given so much in life that the only way they can feel special is if they’re given a bit more.

I mean, okay, great, you got a pile of presents, but how many can you actually play with at one time? I’m not blaming kids that their parents are rich, but it’s important for you to understand that some folks—especially those who seem to have everything they want—have trouble finding happiness with what they have. It’s never enough!

Poor kids at school will be quiet about what they got, or they may make up a story and say they got a bunch of stuff they’re never going to have. It hurts to feel like you don’t have what everyone else got or like someone else has a better life. But those poor kids should be really proud, even if they only get one thing. It means that Santa knows that they have good hearts and have a lot of hope.

Think about it, if poor kids are grateful for what they get and see it as an extra special event when they get a new toy or video game, then they will work hard to have more magic in their lives. The magic won’t get too old or ordinary, even when they one day get more money and more stuff. If Santa gets them hot food when they usually don’t get any, or if he manages to get them a toy, then it’s Santa’s way of showing how special their hearts are. Those kids will work hard to make magic for other kids as they get older, and they’ll be grateful for stuff others might just consider ordinary. Technically, they’re kind of rich too, aren’t they?

And if kids never get anything for Christmas, they should let their teachers and counselors know. Santa takes a lot of different forms and has a lot of extra helpers, but Santa sometimes needs kids to tell him what they need. Learning to ask for help is a really important life lesson. When someone asks for help, it lets adults know that they should do whatever they can. If no one asks, no one can answer! If a kid asks a teacher for help, then the teacher will be ready to help again the next year and may even have more time to prepare more of what might be needed. It’s sort of like the kid who asks for something now is being a Santa for the next kid who needs it. How’s that for crazy logic?

Your mind is blown, am I right? I’m a pretty brilliant cat!

See, Santa isn’t black, white, or purple (although I would pay two fishes to see a purple Santa!) Santa isn’t fat or thin, and Santa doesn’t always wear a red suit. Santa doesn’t expect you to go the extra mile, even though those “be good” songs say otherwise. Santa meets you where you are. He reminds you that you are good enough, just as you are in that magical Christmas moment. Santa becomes whatever it is that you need Santa to be.

Santa is a Calico. FACT.

Okay, I’m done fixing your silly human-kitten problems. I’ve been awake for an hour, so now I’m hungry and exhausted. Just so you know, I’m filling your stockings with hairballs as soon as I’m done typing. You’ll be grateful, am I right?

Your favorite, wise, guru-brain-thingy advisor,

LuLu the Calico Cat


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