I don’t know how exactly you’ll do it friend, but you better find a way to wrap that puppy. And pretty darn soon, because it’s coming fast.

You remember, right? The puppy I’ve been asking for every year since I was given this space to articulate my wants?

You got it for me this year. I know you did because I’ve been poking around the back of your closet and it smells like dog in there.

Every year it’s the same thing. We never talk about the good things we already have; we talk about the things we long for. We forget about the still-upright house that stays at 67 degrees on the worst of nights and the big backyard.

We never talk about the car you can start with the push of a button from inside the house or the seats – are you kidding me? – that heat up on their own, awaiting your butt.

Every year, I chastise you for your greed. Every year you dismiss me outright.

I don’t mean to scold you, reader. I’m lecturing myself as much as I’m lecturing you. We are so blessed and yet we whine like infants deprived of mommy’s milk. Cavemen sharing the tail of a jaybird complained less than we do.

Don’t get me wrong. I want a lot. I want to be back on Santa Monica Boulevard selling my book rights to the movie studios and getting irritated with Britney as a next-door neighbor rather than some faraway face on TV.

I want the bestseller status so badly, I sometimes rehearse my speech for the Nobel committee. You should hear it. Just the right amount of humor and humility. I open with a joke about how many writers from Lewiston, Maine, it takes to change a light bulb.

But every so often, while I’m entertaining these glorious dreams, a metaphorical boot kicks me in the literal ass and fills my head with stars that shape these words: YOU WANT FOR NOTHING. YOU HAVE SO MUCH MORE THAN ANYONE A GENERATION BEFORE.

And only that aching pain in my backside is enough to conjure the first Christmas carol from my lips. I give up the manifest destiny of selfishness just long enough to know this: Things are great on my end. I am warm at night and the people I love are alive and well.

Just hear those sleigh bells ringing and … something, something my shoe …

But we are a whiny lot by nature. We want what our more prosperous neighbors have. We think we are worth Manny-sized contracts because we work harder than that slouch even if we can’t hit a breaking ball.

It may be evolution, a characteristic of our species that demands that we always reach for something meatier. The giraffe would have a 3-inch neck, after all, if some hard-wired cue hadn’t inspired him to reach higher toward the beautiful fruit at the top of the tree. Who would go to the zoo to see that?

But why do we always want more even when we are sated? The hairy beasts that got us here were happy with a belly full of elk meat and some dew off a leaf. But we want a fat 401(k), a beautiful car and a WiFi connection that never quits.

I’m not saying we should stop pushing ourselves to achieve and attain more – this very day, I might hire a money-grubbing pilot to fly across the sky to write “Please buy Mark’s books! He’s staaaaaaaarving!” – but I’m a huge advocate of the inner inventory.

It’s all perspective. My God, man. Go read the “Little House on the Prairie” series (not that I read it, mind you. I’m not a teenage girl anymore). I mean, those people were absolutely ecstatic – would turn cartwheels in 9 feet of snow while artfully avoiding mounds of horse potty – if they got oranges in their Christmas stockings.

Oranges!

So, clearly you’re a selfish lout, as am I.

But again, I don’t mean to lecture. It’s just that I expect one day we will discover life on another planet and we will find a species that has achieved a level of happiness that is less demanding.

They won’t be beating each other up over things they don’t have or building bombs to be used in case of extreme greed. They will have adequately full bellies and beautiful thoughts. They won’t drive themselves to ulcers while coveting thy neighbor’s Miata. Once a year, they will erect trees to represent their happiness and they will stand around them, singing.

“Peace on (your planet name here) and mercy mild, (your favorite icon here) and sinners reconciled …”

I do go on, don’t I? I don’t mean to. Every time I sing carols, I sound like Jim Morrison at the bad end of his career, and he wasn’t meant for this season.

I only mean to impart that we’re not all millionaires and rock stars and some of us will never be. We don’t all have jets and big ships with a staff to steer us across the world. You may not have so much as a gizmo that will start your car telepathically while you sleep, although they’re pretty cheap at Pep Boys.

But if you’re not starving and the people you love aren’t dying next to you, be happy for today, at least. In two days, it will be the day after Christmas and that is a time to renew lust for desired things.

We’ll all go about vowing to lose weight, work for promotions, quit our disgusting habits or get on the treadmill, all part of the ultimate plan to attain things that always seem just out of the reach of our fingers, like the star placed at the top of the Christmas tree.

Maybe that’s why we put the star up there. It serves as a grand symbol of our ever-reaching wants.

And that is the end of my rant. For now at least, I want for nothing but a dog leash, because you really came through for me with that puppy this year. I just hope you took the time to poke holes in the box you delivered him in, Santa Stupid.

I’m still scarred from that horrible Christmas morning of 1989.

Mark LaFlamme is the Sun Journal crime reporter. You can e-mail Christmas greetings to [email protected]


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