By Anne Sullivan
“That’s interesting,” Sylvia said during Channel 4’s late evening broadcast.
“What?” I asked, slightly befuddled after waking from a catnap in my comfortable chair.
“Santa Claus is accepting mail again,” Sylvia informed me.
“I didn’t know that Santa wasn’t accepting mail. After all, that’s his job,” I said. “Kids write to him asking for Christmas presents and, if they’ve been good, Santa brings them what they want on Christmas Eve. That is, if their requests are reasonable and have been properly processed with the correct postage.”
“I think Santa wants mail,” Sylvia reasoned out loud, “and the objection seems to have something to do with the Postal Service and the Privacy Act. Do you suppose the Postal Service went Postal?”
“No, no,” I said. “The Postal Service didn’t go Postal. There are so many rules and considerations these days, it’s a wonder we get any mail at all. They have so much more to worry about and be accountable for now than there was years ago that it’s hard for any organization to function. We should just be glad they came to their senses,” I explained before asking, “Are you planning to write Santa?”
“I’m not sure,” she said, making the first turn of three in her bed. “There’s nothing I can think of to ask for other than that old staple – world peace.” After another two turns she asked, “What about you? Are you going to write Santa? And what do you want this Christmas?”
“I haven’t given it much thought. It’s not really a matter of what I want this year. It’s more what I don’t want.”
“What I want more than anything is a mouseless house.”
Sylvia’s brown eyes opened wide. “Can Santa do that?”
“It would be worth trying. Are you game to write him?”
“You’re a lot younger than I am.”
“Not in dog years. We’re about even. However, I’ll write him. My handwriting is more like a child’s than yours,” Sylvia offered as she rose from her bed. “Get me pen and paper, please.”
After I had done so she settled on her stomach in front of the TV. Chewing the pen, she soon became lost in heavy THOUGHT.
“A penny, Sylvia,” I asked.
She spoke slowly, “Santa is supposed to be a very kind person, isn’t he?”
“Then he wouldn’t want to do anything unkind like poisoning the mice or sending them out into the cold, would he? And I have to state that it’s very cold here in Swingle Canyon. It’s barely 11 degrees now and it’s still only November.”
“And your point is?”
“If we get the mice out of the house we should offer them alternative housing at a price they can afford.”
“Which is nothing. There’s a shortage of jobs for mice here in Datil.”
“It is Christmas,” Sylvia pointed out. “We can’t expect Santa to do it all. After all, he is getting on in years.”
“Well,” said I, somewhat irritated, “what do you suggest?”
“I shall put my thinking cap on,” Sylvia said with great dignity, “ and give you an answer in fifteen minutes.”
Expecting nothing, I started to read the Arts section of the paper, but fell asleep instead.
A jubilant Sylvia woke me. “I have it!” she shouted. “We must build a mouse house. We’ll call it the Moushelter.” Her paws waved in excitement. “It will be somewhere safe for the mice, where they can go to school and get medical care without fear of sticky traps or DeCon or Coca-cola.”
“Coca-cola?” I echoed.
“Yes. Didn’t you know? They love it. They drink the fizzy stuff, go outside and it explodes their stomachs.”
“Oh, dear. Merry Mouse Christmas. And how do you plan to raise money for the moushelter?”
“That’s another column,” Sylvia said, sinking down to sleep again.