Confession No. 71 — A letter to Santa, 2012

Dear Santa,

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written you. In fact, my last letter came to you on a Big Chief sheet, written with map colors. But that was a few decades ago and I doubt you remember anything after the decadent 1980s (for which I was partly responsible).

I’m coming to you with a wish list once again, but first I owe you many thanks.

I might be getting up there in years, but I’m still excited every time a new Hess Truck appears beneath our artificial tree. Also, when I shouted ‘This is the best Christmas ever!’ a year ago after unwrapping the entire Six Million Dollar Man series on DVD, I meant it.

Hell, man. Who am I kidding? I’ve meant it every December 25. You are the bomb, Santa, and I really appreciate you — but not only for Celtics tickets, cooking classes and Wüsthof knives.

Let’s face it, Santa. You must spend considerable time each year pondering as to whether you should stop by my home. I’m fully aware that, if I’m not bitching and complaining about something, I’m getting myself into trouble elsewhere — mostly juvenile stuff like drinking straight from the 2-liter bottle, or leaving my XM-Sirius on the Playboy channel for my wife to hear when she starts the car. I know that you must have also caught me trying to pass off chicken thighs for white meat, or claiming that my (perfect idea of) chili was ‘accidentally’ over-spiced.

What can I say? I’m guilty. Yet, you come through for me every year. And I’m asking you to come through for me in a big way in 2012 — and avoid me.

You read that correctly. Don’t bring me anything.

Unless you can pay off my mortgage or sprinkle some magic ‘get along and be nice’ dust on my children, I have everything I need and want. But, there are too many people who don’t … right here in my hometown.

Before you get too nervous at what I’m asking for, don’t. My request only includes children, since they are the ones who are forced to live with their parents’ choices.

In my line of work, I too often see children who don’t even own a belt or shoes that fit, whereas their caretakers (if you want to call them that) manage to talk on high-tech cell phones as they are driving about town on a $2,000 set of chrome wheels. Other children go hungry on weekends, since school cafeterias feed them only Monday through Friday. (We have about 800 of those children living right here.) What’s up with their parents? God only knows.

I know you cannot solve the world’s problems — especially in one night. And, please don’t start thinking of me as a sappy bleeding heart, because there are some so-called grown-ups out there who deserve to have their remaining ‘meth’ teeth kicked out … and I’d like to have those honors. But, there are some little ones out there who’ll be skipped over (again) if we don’t step up.

So, Santa … How about it?

Your old friend,


Adam J. Holland
Longview, Texas

P.S. — Feel free to stop by for a late-night snack and a couple of beers (I’ll try to save you at least one Anchor Steam Christmas Ale). But please tell those antler-shedding helpers of yours to avoid snacking on my citrus trees this year.

I hope you enjoy my reflections enough to tell 50 of your closest friends about this place. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook for regular conversation. Just click the ‘like’ button.

It’s no secret that Santa enjoys sweets any way you make them. But the poor guy needs a little sustenance. Not to mention, all those cookies are murder on his hemoglobin levels. Spicy Pickled Shrimp are clutch as an appetizer, but they are also outstanding on a sandwich or as a salad topper.

Spicy Pickled Shrimp

Spicy Pickled Shrimp

It’s a Southern tradition to serve Spicy Pickled Shrimp during the summer, but the bright flavors also make for an excellent addition to the holiday hors d’oeuvres menu.

Though I’m including measurements here, I tend to wing this based on the container I’m using. This recipe is for a 1-quart jar.

1 lb. – Medium shrimp (26-30 ct.), peeled and deveined
2 TB – Old Bay Seasoning -or- 1 TB Pickling spices plus 1 TB Cajun Salt
1 – Lemon, quartered

To about 8 quarts of water, add spices and lemon. Bring to a rolling boil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven. Place shrimp in water, turn off heat and cover for about 5 minutes (until shrimp are pink). Remove shrimp and place in ice water to prevent overcooking.

¼ cup – Extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp – Ground coriander
1 tsp – Mustard seed
1 tsp – Celery seed
1 TB – Red chile flakes
2 TB – Flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
2 TB – Black peppercorns

Combine spices with olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

1 – Small yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
3 – Garlic cloves, quartered lengthwise
2-3 – Lemon or Orange slices
2-3 – Fresh jalapeno pepper slices
2 TB – Kosher salt
2 – Fresh Bay leaves -or- 2-3 Fresh Citrus leaves

2½ cups – Vinegar combined with ½ cup – water

Place garlic cloves, jalapeno pepper slices and salt in bottom of quart-sized jar. Add a layer of onion, followed by a layer of shrimp. After a couple of layers, add Citrus slices and Bay (or Citrus) leaves. Continue making layers until all shrimp and onion have been used, or until jar is full to the neck. Add vinegar/water mixture to within about 1 inch from the neck (add more water if necessary). Add olive oil/spice mixture.

Seal jar and refrigerate overnight, or for 2-3 days for deeper flavor. Gently agitate daily to distribute spices. Keeps for about 7-10 days, refrigerated.

Serve chilled.


  1. Okay, I’ve never had pickled shrimp, but think I will now. These look amazing…..and take me with you when you go on a meth-mouth teeth kicking spree….I’d love to help! Some people shouldn’t be allowed to breed.

  2. Never heard of this southern tradition but it sure looks beautiful. You just keep coming up with the coolest ideas.
    Good of you to try to help ol’ Santa out – that guy’s so old he gets forgetful sometimes but could we also go kick the fine citizens who stole the toys from the Toys For Tots? Please?

    • It seems there is something every year. This past year in my hometown, a bunch of toys were stolen from a storage building. As it turned out, one of the thieves was a nurse. She and her posse were selling the toys, if memory serves me correctly. Evil bitch (her, not you).

      • Well now isn’t that right in the spirit of things. We had a recent news alert about police in the area looking for 2 women who just follow the UPS/FedEx trucks. The women just follow along & do their shopping that way I guess. Of course their suggestion is to have your packages delivered “sig required” – you know how much the drivers will love that?
        But, you’re right, every year there’s a new scam just when you thought people couldn’t sink any lower.

  3. Excellent post Adam, as usual.

  4. Taking On Magazines says:

    Bravo! Our church has a backpack program for one of our low income schools in the area. We fill the packs with food for the kids so they won’t go hungry over the weekend when they’re not eating the subsidized meals at school. It’s pretty cool, truth be told. But, it’s a drop in the bucket for the youngsters. When I help out at the food pantry, I get irritated at seeing people come in for boxes of food with their well manicured hands holding on to those high tech gadgets. Grrrrr. I need shrimp to calm me down.

    • Our school district employs a similar backpack program, which is paid for by (district) employees through payroll withdrawal. Unfortunately, there are too many kids whose parents refuse the service, while other (mostly older) kids refuse it because they are embarrassed. I think I can understand where some of those older kids are coming from, we just haven’t figured out a way to ‘hide’ the backpacks for them.

  5. Thanks for this, It is a good reminder for us about the spirit of compassion that needs to be a year-round thing…not just at the holidays!

  6. I can’t wait to try these… Beautiful!

  7. juanitascocina says:

    Sometimes, your big ol’ teddy bear heart brings a tear to my eye. You big softy. (softie?)

  8. Agreed! It’s all about the children…”Jesus loves them, this I know!” There will be 24 of them at the Homeless Shelter in our town, where our drama team will be ministering & donating food & clothes on Dec. 22nd! Keep preachin’, Brother! Great post!!

  9. You are so right about food insecure children. When this lunch lady works the trash room during lunch, it is easy to look beyond the “all are equal” uniforms and identify the children who don’t get enough to eat at home. Hunger exists, even in the so-called well to do areas. Donate to your local food pantry or Feeding America.
    Agree about the spicy pickled shrimp. Good any time of year. What’s your choice of Shiner beer for pickled shrimp?

    • I prefer Shiner’s summer wheat beer (Heffewiezen) over any of their other offerings. Anchor Steam Liberty Ale is a very nice contrast with the Spicy Pickled Shrimp … Especially when there is some sharp cheese involved, such as Stilton.

  10. I was born and raised in the South and have never, ever, ever heard of this tradition! However, I am willing to give it a try. And let me know when you want to find those selfish parents (can you call them parents?!?). It upsets me when kids go without basic needs being met, but their parents can go buy beer, alcohol, and cigarettes every weekend!!!

  11. Reblogged this on THE EAST TEXAS TRAVELER and commented:
    I have let the Christmas bustle take priority over my blogging but fortunately my fellow blogger Adam Holland has written a letter to Santa that deserves to be shared. One of the things I admire most about Adam, besides his superior cooking and blogging skills, is the fact that he has strong opinions that usually coincide with my own and he makes no apologies for expressing them. That’s something I am continuing to work on. So, I know what I am going to do about my letter to Santa this year. I’m going to forward him a copy of Adam’s letter with the request “Ditto for me, Santa!”


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