I sat in the front room helping my daughters write their letters to Santa. The seven year old was busy carefully copying out all the words I had helped her spell, putting in her request for a new Snap Circuits set. The four year old was more hesitant, she didn’t know what to write. After asking about whether Mr Claus celebrates Halloween and thanking him for his previous contributions, we finally got to the important bit at the bottom and she stalled, not sure what to wish for. Finally, her face lit up in a smile and she said, “I know! I know! Write this: Please may I have some science fiction for Christmas.”
After asking about whether Mr Claus celebrates Halloween and thanking him for his previous contributions, we finally got to the important bit at the bottom and she stalled, not sure what to wish for. Finally, her face lit up in a smile and she said, “I know! I know! Write this: Please may I have some science fiction for Christmas.”
|Merry Science Fiction to all, and to all a good night!|
My thoughts raced. I wondered how the heck she had picked up the term science fiction. I also wondered how I could convince her to write something else because I was pretty sure Santa wasn’t going to be able to deliver. “You mean like Star Wars stuff?” I prompted. “No. Not Star Wars. That was before. Now I want science fiction.” I stumbled, “Um.. hon, Star Wars is science fiction.” She stared at me blankly, but she also had that stubborn I’m not budging on this gleam in her eye.
“Do you know what science fiction means?” She fiercely nodded her head up and down. “Ok, so tell me what it means.” She deflated a little, “Um… It means it’s what I want for Christmas!” I explained that fiction means made up stories, so science fiction means make-believe stories about science. “Oh.” She stopped and thought for a moment and said, “Ok, write this down for me: Please may I have some science fiction for Christmas, or stickers, or just plain science.”
She was insistent that I write those exact words. I asked what she meant by “just plain science”. In a tone that showed she was clearly getting exasperated with me, she said, “You know, SCIENCE? Just science!” Grasping for ideas as to what she thought the guy in the red suit might actually bring I asked for examples but I just got an enigmatic, “He’ll know.”
Sitting in my front room puzzling over my four year old’s perceived difference between science fiction and “just plain science”, I felt a twinge of sympathy for my mom. As she’s frequently reminded me over the years, when I was four I told my baffled mother that the one and only Christmas gift I wanted was a fish who could swim and fly. My mom was worried but I was perfectly pleased when Santa brought me a trio of small wind-up fish; when wound up their fishtail behinds flipped back and forth. I remember holding them in my hand and zooming them through the air and letting them flop around in the water during bathtime. As far as I was concerned they swim and flew, Christmas wish answered.
I started thinking about other bizarre Christmas wishes. Like when my brother was a teenager he jokingly asked Santa for bacon (and every year thereafter Mrs. Claus left a bacon sandwich sitting on top of my brother’s stocking). I asked folks on my Facebook fanpage what sorts of odd things their little ones had wished for and I giggled at answers that ranged from canned mushrooms and hot dogs to “a coffee table to hold raisins” and “a real life chicken farm”.
But I was stumped as to what the heck my four year old would receive that would fit her idea of science fiction. If it was up to me she would have come downstairs Christmas morning to find a preschooler sized Tie-Fighter waiting for her, and a mom determined to defend the fact that Star Wars is indeed science fiction. However, Mr. Claus spied the Imaginext toy I had squirrelled away for her February birthday and pointed out how it perfectly fit the theme.
The four year old was the last one out of bed on Christmas morning. I sat and watched as she came into the room, stopped two feet short of where her gifts from Santa lay and just stood there shaking, trembling from head to toe. Her eyes sparkled and she muttered “Science!” as she grabbed at the tentacled monster under the tree. Christmas wish answered.
How about you folks? What’s the weirdest Christmas gift you’ve ever wished for (or been asked for)? Was there anything wacky waiting under your tree this year?