Dear Santa, As you're making your list and checking it twice, be sure to include me under "nice." (Relax. This whole column isn't going to rhyme.)
Despite what you may have heard from Florida fans, various members of my extended family, and certain individuals in the state and local government, I've actually been a pretty good boy this year.
For one thing, I've tried to be more sensitive, more in touch with my feminine side. Just this past weekend, I watched "The Time Traveller's Wife" -- the mother of all chick flicks -- while sitting in front of the fireplace sipping hot cocoa. That ought to make up for a few elbows thrown in anger during pick-up basketball games.
I have also been unwaveringly loyal. Despite the unprecedented gridiron disaster that has inexplicably befallen my beloved alma mater, I still wear my Tennessee-orange tie on appropriately dressy occasions, such as funerals, court appearances for UGA football players, and the season finales of "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Kardashians."
I have tried to put other people's feelings ahead of my own. When my daughter and her husband decided that he would attend professional school out of state, I let her go, even though my first instinct was to bundle her into her Big Bird overalls and take her to the park.
I have made every effort to share my belongings. The other evening, when my wife came downstairs in my favorite flannel shirt and my brand-new, fifteen-dollar, silk/wool-blend hiking socks -- because, she said, "they're comfy" -- I don't think I overreacted too much. She's already forgiven me and even agreed to sew the buttons back on my shirt.
I have performed my civic duty, voting in the recent election and keeping abreast of important local issues. Now I'm just waiting for the County Commission and the Chamber of Commerce to tell me what I ought to think about those issues.
I have embraced cultural diversity by continuing to shop at the large national retail chains, including the one that is French-owned and that one that employs 97.4 percent Spanish-speaking clerks.
I have tried to serve where needed. A few weeks ago I was a substitute Sunday School teacher for a class of 6-year-olds. I couldn't answer all of their doctrinal questions, but at least they now understand the difference between betting on football games "straight up" and betting "against the spread." In a predominantly Southern Baptist state that funds education through gambling, that seemed like an appropriate lesson.
But most of all, Santa, I have done my best to approach this column each week with energy and integrity, leaving no stone unturned, no issue unexamined, no football fan uninsulted in my ongoing search for truth, justice, and the next punch line.
As for all my loyal readers, why, put them on the "nice" list, too. After 52 weeks of reading this shtick, they deserve it.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.