Through the Kitchen Window

In the last few years, we’ve added a new tradition to our ever-growing list of Christmas traditions. Some of you may know that Christmas is my favourite time of year. I bring out the decorations when the Santa Claus parade hits Toronto -- 16th November this year -- and they stay around till we have our Family Valentine’s Dinner. I plan each holiday meal to the last morsel weeks in advance with my shopping lists at the ready and the order of preparation brought down to a science. I shop, plot surprises, wrap gifties and send out cards, all with what my friends call the pleasure of a child. And in a lot of ways Christmas makes me feel that way. It doesn’t matter what gifts I receive. What matters are the times spent with my children around me. Meals shared with friends and loved ones. Hours spent playing board games, window shopping, and just plain enjoying the blessings of having a family that enjoys each others’ company and a circle of friends that have become part of that family.

I LOVE Christmas!!!

So, with children full grown and mostly living on their own, a few years ago I started asking them, well, asked them again really, for a Santa letter. The premise is that as “MOM” I’m the only one who knows how to get their letters to Santa in his secret place so that they can be sure of getting everything they want. I know, many of you will think it’s a cop-out. That I can’t be bothered to come up with gift ideas on my own. But in reality, it comes from a deep seated sense of wanting, in some small way, to keep that element of magic in the season.

Each year, when faced with the task of “The Letter”, they amuse and entertain with their ingenuity. It’s never just an outright “list of wants”. They put something into it that makes it poignant and sweet, but mostly comical. And they strive each to do one better than the other. This year topped them all. At least so far. And so, I bring to you my children’s “Letters to Santa”. These are exactly the way they wrote them to me.

Marina and her partner Victoria were the first to weigh in:

    from marina sandra
    to roxx t

    date Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 3:14 PM
    subject Re: christmas

    hey momma, i just realized that i only sent our letter to you. sheesh.

    though i know of course that you will forward it to santa, i forgot to send it out to everyone else. the boys may want to see it to take notes of what a good santa letter is ;) haha.

    i haven't included vic though, because she doesn't know what i ended up writing on her gift list (she couldn't come up with any ideas so i ended up listing the few things i knew of).

    love & misses.
    so here's the letter:


    dear santa.
    its so great that you are doing this email thing. now you can't give us any excuses about missed presents due to letters being lost in the mail. ha ha, just kidding. we would never say that!

    vic and i have been so nice, you wouldn't even believe it. if we weren't just telling you now. because of course you do believe us, being that we are so nice and therefore so honest and whatnot. and because we are so nice, we do hope that you have had a lovely relaxing year and that mrs claus and all the reindeer, elves, and other small accoutrements around the workshop are all very healthy and happy.

    can you believe that this will be vic & mine's first xmas together!? and matt is coming home too! so, we don't really need to ask for much more. except maybe you could leave us some delicious prosciutto & dark crusty bread, oh and a wheel of friulano cheese... those are getting expensive these days. sheesh. (maybe you can put in a call to the italian cheese ring leaders).

    but if you insist on picking up a few non-perishables, there are a couple of things we wouldn't mind seeing under the tree (though we would never peek... being such nice girls and all).

    marina's been day-dreaming about...

    • a gift certificate for secrets from your sister.
    • a cool old school pencil sharpener, with the crank handle & whatnot.
    • fun fabrics that im not allowed to buy because i am being a good girl (you can see these and other small ideas in my etsy favourties).

    now, besides the usual videogames, i don't have too many suggestions for vic, but here's what i have...

    • a subscription to a videogame magazine (other than EGM).
    • a gift certificate to Bench (trendy hoodies she's been drooling over but they're expensive so we haven't gotten her one yet).
    • perhaps something funny for her desk at work? (i'm really grasping here!).

    hey santa, we were just thinking about how we write these letters every year and you never get to write one of your own! you should write us a letter... maybe there will be something waiting for you beside the milk and cookies this year...

    love & misses.
    marina and vic

To which, in rebuttal, Vincent and his partner Jamie, sent this one:

    from Vincent Tarantini
    to Mom

    date Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 1:19 PM
    subject RE: christmas

    I'm currently on the third and final draft of my letter.
    you should be receiving it shortly..

Which was followed shortly after, by this:

    from Vincent Tarantini
    to Mom

    date Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 8:12 PM
    subject RE: christmas

    Greetings Santa Claus,

    As you have probably noticed by now, your first major lieutenant sergeant captain brigadier colonel Vixen is MIA. We (vince and jamie) personally claim all responsibility for the kidnapping and detainment of said reindeer. Vixen is safe, for now, and I will return him to you on the following simple terms:

    1. According to new emissions standards your sleigh is running at sub-par levels. According to the HTA Bill
        " . . . any and all extraterrestrial, aeronautically enhanced, north-pole inhabiting, santa-wielding sled-crafts must maintain a maximum emissions content of 0.06 poops per kilometer."

      From the latest numbers it was discovered that your sled is operating at an obscene 1.6 poops per kilometer on average. Our first demand is that you bring the average emissions of that fibre-guzzler down to allowable levels.

    2. Our second demand is that you get a part-time job. Seeing as you choose to only work one day a year, the rest of the fine, hard-working citizens have to cover for your lazy ass in the form of EI benefits. Money that should be going to the real needy is being consumed by you and your candy-cane addiction. If you do not secure employment for the upcoming year I have no other option then to permanently detain Vixen; I will give him to my cousin who runs a petting zoo, and you do not want that to happen.
    3. Our third and final request reveals my greedy-side. You must deliver the following items to the 'tarantini christmas tree'.
      • one (1) set of sheets, to fit a queen size bed (Navy)
      • one (1) clothes drying rack, to hold lots of wet laundry
      • two (2) pairs of dress socks
      • one (1) soft blanket for the couch, better NOT make it fleece (beige/neutral colour)
      • one (1) package lightscribe dvds,
      • any old-school snes or sega genesis games
      • gift certificate for 'theatre books' - (round to the nearest 20 cents)

      Ensure that the above items are labeled "gifts from santa" (as we want to avoid paying any associated gift taxes).

    We are reasonable people, but we will not budge on any of the above mentioned demands.
    You have until 00:00 December 25th 2008 to deliver on the demands.

    You know the demands,
    You know the repercussions,
    Don't try to be a wise-elf,

    vince and jamie

What followed the arrival of this mail, can only be described as a “concession mail”:

    from marina sandra
    to Mom

    date Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 10:05 PM
    subject Re: christmas

    scene: o'hara house, late evening, curtains drawn, lamps on.

    [marina & vic hang their heads in shame]

    say in unison:
    "you have out-done us, this we must concede."

    "but there will be biting upon next we meet."
    mumbled by marina upon exit.


At this point, I’m waiting with bated breath for the volley in response from my youngest, Anthony. Here’s what arrived today:

    from Anthony Tarantini
    to Momma

    date Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 2:19 PM
    subject Christmas Fiasco!

    The following text is strictly CONFIDENTIAL , for Mr. Kringle’s eyes only. Anyone caught reading, holding, talking about, or otherwise knowledgeable of said text will be punished to the furthest extent of the law.

    Mr. Kringle,

    We have received your letter and have decided that it is of the utmost importance to act upon the matter as soon as possible. We have taken several steps with which we hope to help you, but first we must go over a few things. Most importantly, you must remain calm. We find when dealing with such dirty dealers, having a solid state of mind is invaluable. You made the right decision contacting us, and now you must leave the rest of this operation to us.

    First of all, we have told our crack team of lawyers and accountants to look over HTA Bill, and at your sleigh emissions over the last five years. Although their number of 1.6 p/km is inflated, your emissions were 1.46 p/km. But our lawyers have found a loophole in this bill that I think we might be able to exploit. The bill states:

      " . . . any and all extraterrestrial, aeronautically enhanced, north-pole inhabiting, Santa-wielding sled-crafts must maintain a maximum emissions content of 0.06 poops per kilometre."

    As far as we know, there is nothing extraterrestrial about your sleigh. Worldly land mammals enhanced with Christmas magic are nothing from out of this world. Also, you do not actually inhabit the ‘north-pole.’ You inhabit the island of Chrismalia which is actually 10o south of where the actual north-pole resides. The last thing is that your sleigh itself has a 0.00 p/km emission rating. The reindeer that pull your sleigh have the emission rating of 1.6 p/km but are not a permanent part of the sled-craft, therefore are not to be held to the same emission standards as the sled craft itself. We have our lawyers on the case, and they do not foresee a problem getting this handled without any problems from the public or other activists.

    On the rescue front, I have been given authority to inform you that we have sent a crack team of investigators to search for where Vixen is being held. We did a cross reference check with all owners of petting zoos, and with people with the last name Tarantini. We came up with a few possibilities, three with prior criminal records, but only two with the resources, wherewithal, and space to pull off such a heist. While covertly searching these properties, we uncovered where he is being held. I have attached a picture of Vixen for you to see his condition as of 0800 hours yesterday morning.

    We have been working on a plan to rescue Vixen and have him returned to you so that you can do your yearly duty, but we need some help from you. Vixen has been through a lot these last couple days, and we always find it best to have something from the parents/owners of the hostages. We want to make him feel as safe as possible when we breach the warehouse. We have included a list of things that would be of great help for us to try and get him to come easily with us:

    • Vixen’s favourite record, this will help us show that we know him personally and we are there to help him, not hurt him.
    • The sheets from Vixen’s bed. Having something that has his scent on it will make him think of home and his bed.
    • If we could have one of your comfiest sweaters, to make him think of you. This will help us get him to come with us if he thinks you’re there.
    • Also, we have a TV in the truck. If you have any video games from his child hood that you could give us, it would be supremely helpful. We find it good to have them think of their childhood when finally rescued.

    If you can deliver any or all of these items, we will try our best to rescue Vixen. The more that you are able to give, the better the chances of having Vixen rescued quickly and safely are. Also, I must add that you are not, under any circumstances to give in to the demands of these Yule-time tyrants. You are under strict orders to appease them until we give you the signal that we have extracted Vixen from the vicinity, and they can no longer carry out their threat.

    If you follow these simple orders, and don’t try to undermine us at any point in this operation, we promise you that Vixen will be back home safely by 1200 hours, Christmas Eve, December 24th.

    We hope you sleep well with little worry, you are in good hands

    Sincerely, your friends at
    The Central Intelligence Agency

I’m still laughing at this last one. And I THINK that the Christmas wish list is in code. I just have to figure out how to break it. Any Secret Agent code breakers out there???

Matt’s letter arrived this morning. After reading it, I can’t be 100% certain that there won’t be a responding volley. After all, he blatantly ignored the kidnappers AND the CIA!!!

All I can say is, it’s a good thing it was about finding out what they wanted for Christmas and not about choosing “the best” one. I’d be in a lot of trouble if it was!!!

    from Matt Tarantini
    to Rossana Tarantini

    date Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 8:13 AM
    subject RE: christmas

    'Wake up,' she said as she entered the dark bedroom. 'Hmfp,' was the only response she received as she watched him roll over and face the wall.

    She switched on the lights and nudged him, while repeating herself, 'Wake up.'

    'Go away.' 'Come on, this is important you need to get up now.'

    The duvet was ripped off him and he could feel the crisp early morning air that had seeped in through the tired seals around the windows. 'We should get that window fixed. It's not like we're living somewhere it could ever be appreciated.'

    'Good point Hun, however, we have a more urgent matter to attend to.'

    He sat up on the edge of the bed rubbed his face and his beard. 'What could be so important that you're cutting into my sleep? I've been working all night and I just crawled into bed?'

    'I know you work hard and had a very long night, but you need to come and take a look at this.'

    He stood up, got into his warm fuzzy slippers and his extra large red house coat. 'Ok, what is it?' He queried growing more intrigued as he slowly regained mental awareness.

    'Did you drop off everything last?' 'Of course I did, I always do. Mistakes are not in my nature.' 'Well the computer is telling me that you missed a stop.' 'That's impossible; I hit all the houses on my route.'

    Just then a small man wearing a green workman's outfit came running in. 'Santa, Santa.'

    'Yes Zeek, What is it?' 'Kreg and I were cleaning the sleigh after you returned when the red button started flashing. We didn't know what to do so we pushed it and discovered that you dropped presents at the wrong house.' 'That's not possible. I did everything according to the plan. I followed the itinerary to a T.' 'But that would explain why the Santa Appreciation monitor shows an element of sadness coming from Rhydwen Avenue in Toronto.' Mrs. Claus said finally showing Santa what she woke him up for.

    Confused, Santa asked anyone with an answer, 'How did this happen?'

    Zeek was the first with a response. 'Well it appears as though a certain Matthew Tarantini has made a last minute arrangement to travel home to Toronto from London for Christmas. He flew last night. That's why we missed him.'

    With the gravity of the situation sinking in, Santa sprung into action. 'Zeek, go assemble the reindeer and sleigh. Caroline, can you find out what is missing from under that tree. I'm going to change.'

    Ten minutes later they reconvened in the workshop. Mrs. Claus was the first to speak. 'The good news is the only gifts missing are the ones for Matthew. The bad news is you delivered them to London. You have to go to London and bring them to Toronto. The gifts you dropped off were cookbooks, a black hoody, an external hard drive and a bike horn and light.'

    'Ok, Zeek, is the vehicle prepped and ready go.’ ‘Everything is ready Santa, however, our poops per kilometre is running a bit high.’ ‘There is no time to worry about silly laws. Let’s do this.’

    They quickly went into the garage and Santa jumped into the sleigh. He began to crack the reigns but then suddenly stopped. Instead he turned to Mrs. Claus and asked, ‘What cookbooks did I drop off.’

    She glanced over the paper and told him, ‘They are The Big Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal and White Heat by Marco Pierre White. Hold on to this.’ She hands him the paper with the gift list on it.

    With that, he blew a kiss to Mrs. Claus and shouted, for the second time that year, ‘Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!’ Rudolph’s nose glowed bright in face of the sunrise and off the sleigh went, effortlessly through the air into the morning horizon.

Seems he decided to ignore the fact that Vixen had been kidnapped. After all, we all know Santa has his own brand of magic. Kidnappers are nothing compared to that!!!

Here’s our wish for you and yours to enjoy a happy, joy filled Christmas. Complete with the family and friends that make the memories that we’ll all cherish for years to come.

And I’ll be right here, in this spot, in the New Year!!!


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