Dear Santa,

Hi there. I know it’s been roughly twenty years since I last wrote, but I had a 24-hour bug yesterday and watched a lot of Christmas movies on TV, so I’ve been feeling sentimental.

First of all, I want to thank you for last year’s presents. The clothing steamer and eye cream have both given me a relatively wrinkle-free year. Also, thanks for convincing the movie theatres to have a $5 showing of White Christmas on the big screen this year. It made me feel a whole lot better about Christmas, which I’d been contemplating avoiding like all other holidays this year.

This year, my list is a little different. My priorities have changed a lot this year as “living” and “being able to afford the basics” have been the things I’ve focused on most. I’m not an actor anymore, so an audition wardrobe and lessons and visits to the hair salon and good teeth are no longer basic necessities. Nowadays, all I need are clothes that fit, food, basic toiletries, home hair dye, and enough money for rent, loan payments, a monthly metropass, and visits to my therapist and  support groups etc. Oh, and yoga. Lululemon’s free classes are great, but there’s just something about a studio . . .

I’m not asking for handouts though, Santa. All I want is a job that will pay me enough that I can cover these things myself. So if you hear of anything, please let me know.

This year, I’ve learned that I value two things above all others. These two things can give anyone everything they need to change their life and strive for something better. The first is hope. Without hope, there’s no point in trying for anything better. You can’t see a way out of the place you’re stuck in because you can’t find the light. Even a pinprick of light can make the darkest corners of the world seem a little less grim. I found mine sitting in a room of women who refuse to give up, led by another woman who shines light on everyone she meets. It has made all the difference. Please put a little hope in the stocking of everyone you visit this year.

The second thing I value is a gift I received and did my best to give many times this year. Words of kindness are the greatest gift I have ever encountered. They have a strange power, and if you gather enough of them together, they can chip away at the hatred and doubt that grew from strategically spoken words of cruelty. Those are far too easy to find nowadays, and can do more damage than anything else I’ve found. Please help me remember to choose my words carefully this year, and treat others with kindness, whether I think they deserve it or not. I suppose that includes being kind to myself, Santa, because I’ve been pretty cruel to me.

The other things I want in my life I’m not going to ask you for. Yes, it would be nice to have everything handed to me, wrapped up in shiny paper, but that wouldn’t teach me anything. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from working your hardest for the things you want and finally achieving them. Learning that I’m strong enough and capable enough to take care of myself is a hard battle, and it means that I can’t have everything I want right now, but someday that strength will mean more than, say, a vintage Kelly bag.

Thanks for reading my letter, Santa. I know I haven’t been entirely well-behaved this year, but I’m hoping you’ll accept my attempts to change as passage to the “nice” list.

Please say hello to your wife for me. I met her two years ago on my birthday at Disneyland, and she was so lovely and kind that it made me cry. Take good care of yourself, and the elves, and the reindeer. I don’t have a chimney where I’m living now, but I know you’ll be able to get in somehow. There’s no stocking up, but there are a couple of pairs of boots near my tiny Christmas tree that should be decent substitutes. I actually have both milk and cookies in my house this year, so feel free to help yourself.

Merry Christmas, Santa.

Lots of love, Kelly

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