Dear Santa,

I hope this gets to the North Pole in time for Christmas. The U.S. Postal Service has been really busy because of the pandemic, so I will pray that it does. For starters, thank you for bringing us not one but two FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Yes, I know brilliant scientists at Moderna and Pfizer are the real heroes behind the inoculations and their getting to health-care workers first. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they managed to start arriving in time for Christmas. I hope you’ll bring something special for other hardworking essential workers, too, like maybe some personal protection equipment and much-needed time off.

Also, I know this isn’t the kind of thing you usually have in your sack but since Christmas wishes are free, I’ll ask anyway. Can you end the pandemic? Our school kids need for this to be over already so they can get back to their classrooms. Virtual learning is a struggle. It’s especially hard on the younger ones to be online for hours every day. Many have been doing so since March, when local schools closed because of COVID-19.

Youngsters are missing out on valuable face-to-face time with their teachers and on the socialization that comes with being with their classmates. You know, the kind of thing that you and all of the elves take for granted. In addition, we really need an end to all of this gun violence and bloodshed. Since 2015, there have been more than 8,500 shootings in Philadelphia alone. That’s ridiculous. Will you please drop some holiday magic on this city? Nothing Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, District Attorney Larry Krasner or Mayor Jim Kenney does to stop this mayhem works. Philly’s homicide rate at last count was 481 and growing. We need some changes.

We also could use lots of new jobs so we can buy bread and milk to supplement all of that candy you leave in our stockings. At 52%, more than half of parents with kids in Pennsylvania are food insecure. It’s higher In Jersey, at 56%. So, not only are we not supposed to commingle households this year because of COVID-19, but some of us may go hungry. Santa, this is the year to hand out SNAP cards instead of gift cards. Food stamps would go a long way right now.

Far be it from me to try to tell a jolly old elf like yourself how to do your job. But on Christmas Eve, when you reach into your bag for lumps of coal for the naughty people on your list, don’t forget our politicians. Instead of looking out for us, too many use their positions to enrich themselves — such as a certain person who is throwing a tantrum about leaving the White House.

Your naughty list should be longer than ever with politicians who wrote off the coronavirus virus as a Democratic hoax yet were among the first to get vaccinated. They also buried perks for their rich friends in that 5,593-page spending bill Congress passed that included miserly $600 stimulus checks for cash-strapped Americans. Santa, please bring enough coal for all of them. Same thing with the Scrooge-like state politicians who bungled Pennsylvanians’ getting $108 million in much-needed housing and rental aid. They really screwed that up.

Finally, before your sleigh and eight reindeer leave the area, could you sprinkle some holiday magic around so we can get more peace and goodwill among men in 2021? Black Lives Matter isn’t just a slogan but a call for racial justice and one that we heard a lot in 2020. It’s time that we learn to keep the spirit of the season alive, not just in December but all year long, especially as we figure our way out of this pandemic. Thank you in advance for all of the toys and other gifts you’ll bring.

Love,

Jenice

PS: We could use some extra masks and hand sanitizer in our stockings, too.