Jest for Grins: Dear Santa, I want to report some naughty children

Dear Santa,

I know you're busy making lists, checking them twice, trying to learn who is naughty — and that is why I'm writing. In case you weren't watching, I want to report some naughty children who stole our reflective green and white driveway sign. You might remember that I bought it for husband Ray several Christmases ago. It reads Willow Run because that is what he named our place after planting all those willow trees down by the road.

Those bad children not only stole our sign, they took our neighbors' Longhorn Lane sign, a gift from their daughter-in-law in honor of the cattle they raise. I think we might still have our signs if one of those humongous Longhorns had ambled over to the fence and surprised the robbers in the act.

While it was easy for the thieves to take our neighbors' sign affixed to their fence post, they had to work hard for ours, which was mounted atop a tall pole. When Ray first saw our flattened pole, he assumed a car had hit it. When he didn't see tire tracks and couldn't find the sign, he inspected the mounting bracket and saw the tool marks where the thieves had tried to remove the bracket along with the sign. Although they broke it, they couldn't dislodge the bracket from the pole (I'm pretty sure they were trying to work fast, Santa) so they just unscrewed the sign.

Ray, once a police officer, said our signs were likely adorning a dorm room (sorry, kids, he went with the odds), but the deputy who visited the crime scene said the theft may have been an initiation and the signs, if found at all, might be discovered in a creek. "Once they prove they have taken them," he said, "they often ditch them in a creek."

"It would be nice," Ray said, "if they'd just throw them in the driveways from which they were stolen."

Now, Santa, I wouldn't be so indignant if I had stolen anything in my entire life, but you know I haven't. Sure, a big part of the reason I'm not a thief is that I knew you were watching and I didn't want to find coal in my stocking. The other reason is that, even as a child, I could imagine what it would feel like to be on the losing end of thievery.

Sadly, Ray, doesn't have hands as clean as mine Š although he should, considering he committed his only larceny as a 3-year-old when he swiped a pretty-colored bar of soap from a grocery store. He didn't get a chance to use it, though, because his mother made him return it to the store owner and confess he stole it. The owner was amused that a young boy was attracted to the pink, white and green colors in a bar of soap and told Ray to keep it. But, crying piteously, little Ray shook his head. He'd learned his lesson.

Santa, what do you think it would take for those naughty sign-stealing children to learn that stealing is wrong? Will coal in their stockings teach them a lesson if their parents buy them cashmere sweaters or BMWs for Christmas? I doubt it. I also doubt that their parents, who likely are unaware of their kids' theft, will make them return the signs and confess they stole them.

When our neighbors replace their sign, they plan to hook it up to their electric fence. That should give a jolt of conscience to any would-be thief. Unfortunately, we don't have an electric fence, so after Ray repairs the broken pole, our temporary sign will be a hand-lettered one: Stolen Sign Drive.

In addition to reporting these bad children, Santa, I have another reason for writing to you. Ray, who has been a very good boy this year, would like you to bring him a surveillance camera for Christmas.

Forever your friend,


  • Marsha Henry Goff is a freelance writer in Lawrence whose latest book is "Human Nature Calls."


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