River's Letter to Santa
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A little holiday fluff, set pre-BDM. Comments welcome. If anyone else wants to write any other characters, that would be great.


Dear Santa,

I realize that you are, in actuality, a remarkably persistent meme in the Jungian tradition; generated from a mixture of European pagan and early Christian beliefs and mutating non-essential traits to adapt to cultural contexts. I also realize that I am considered by my society to be too old to write to you. However, as you already know, I am crazy, so I am able to bypass these limits and write you for Christmas. I hope you don't mind. If you do, does that mean you are real?

I have tried to make your job easier by calculating my own naughty-to-nice ratio, but I am unsure what algorithms you employ regarding extenuating circumstances. Depending on the scale used, I am at best 78.8 percent nice and at worst 23.125 percent nice. I can explain most of it. Somewhat. I think. Please don't hold the rest against me, though. What is the normative range, by the way?

If you are still interested, here are my Christmas wishes. Even if you don't bring me mine, maybe you can give the others theirs.

For my best friend, Kaylee: A new induction field monitor, and a set of three Shipstone grade IV rechargeable batteries. I am not sure why she wants the latter, but it involves my brother and compression coil schematics.

For my brother, Simon: A clue. Please. It is very, very important that you get this for him, since he cannot seem to find one himself. Also, a new pair of shoes if you cannot find a big enough clue.

For Jayne (who is actually a boy even though he has a girl's name): A new shirt. A new hat. A Callahan full-bore vacuum case with auto-filtering. A chance for Mattie to beat him running up Cobb Hill, again.

For my playmate, Wash: An Argentinosaurus huinculensis. Fake would be okay. Real would be somewhat problematic if we are not on land when you arrive. Proof that Zoë loves and accepts him.

For Zoë: A large bottle of bubble bath. A letter from her family. Proof that Wash loves and accepts her.

For Kaylee's jie-jie, Inara: A long life. Five yards of silk brocade from Shen Galleries. For Mal to be awake next time.

For the Preacher: I am a bit confused, because I think he already has what he wants. Could you cross-reference with God and see if forgiveness was actually dispensed? The same conclusion from different sources might convince him the cat is actually there even if he was looking at the time.

For Captain Reynolds: Most of what he wants can't be brought back. The first gift was opened before Christmas, and the presents flew to Mal's belfry to roost. Please send him the last straggler. He might rest easier if he has the full set. If you could get Inara to bring it, that would be shiny.

For my Father: I am only 62% sure that this is the right gift for him. A way out.

For my Mother: One pair of open eyes, with fewer tears.

Lastly, for me: Myself. I know that I can't go back to being a girl, but if you could show me what parts of me are true, maybe I can put together something like her. What do you think? If you can't, I understand. Here are my alternates: - A cloud chamber with gravitic stabilizer, and dedicated secure source box, so I can continue the series of experiments I began when I was 14. - Peace for everyone. Especially Simon.

Thank you for listening, Santa. I like you, even if you are not real. I'm not sure I am either.

I will put out a plate of dehydrated apples for you. Cookies would be economically infeasible, and cardiovascularly unwise.

Yours truly, River Tam

P.S. A puppy would be really shiny, too


Tuesday, December 19, 2006 11:36 AM


Oh...this was just unbelievably shiny, schooner! Gotta love River's opening thoughts on the "realness" of Santa, and Santa's method of determining who's been naughty and nice;D

And the invididual requests for the crew? All completely brilliant, but Simon's was da bomb! Biggest clue Santa can find indeed;D


P.S. Other than maybe Kaylee, I can't really see anyone actually writing to Santa. Though arguments can be made for Wash and Jayne:D

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 11:50 AM


This was brilliant - all of River's wishes for each crew member were spot-on, but the most poignant was the wish for herself.

I can actually see just about every crew member writing to Santa, if not putting the pen to paper - only because they all could use something, and have wishes.

I think a better experiment/prompt would be each of the crew's new year's wishes and/or resolutions ... now that could be interesting.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 12:14 PM


Pure gold :D

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 12:19 PM


This was just perfect. I loved it all! River asking for batteries for Kaylee, a clue for Simon, and for Mal to be awake next time were just pure gold.

I dunno if you'd want to do the other characters. I think this is just perfect as a standalone. Doing everyone else might ruin how special and right on this one is.

Nicely done!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 12:52 PM


This was just so sweet, I have tears in my eyes on River's behalf.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 4:48 PM


I really liked this letter! Especially the part where she said that she wanted peace for everyone. Something I can relate to since last year by big bro was in Iraq chasing terrorists.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 5:23 PM


That was brilliant!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 5:29 PM


"Depending on the scale used, I am at best 78.8 percent nice and at worst 23.125 percent nice. I can explain most of it. Somewhat."

Awww, that was very sweet. Maybe add: And for the fans, Serenity II. ;)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 9:40 PM


Loved this, it was so River and her wishes for the rest of the crew were shiny. I just hope she gets all her wishes, even the problematic ones! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 1:47 AM


I loved the Schroedinger's cat reference ... oh, and everything!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 2:05 AM


That P.S was adorable.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 3:00 AM


In response: Jayne.

*The scene opens with a camera pointed at the deck, which then swivels up at a fast rate to quickly bypass then return to a Blue Sun T-shirt, which if fuzzes out of focus for a second. As the camera stabilizes, the person holding it takes a step back and the auto-focus kicks in again, resolving into the upper body of one Jayne Cobb*

*Jayne fidgets for a minute, obviously feeling somewhat self-concious and assanine about this, but continues anyway, putting on his false gruffness despite the slight edge of hope one can hear in his voice.*

"Arright, Not sure how I'm supposed to do this...but I'll just say what's in my head." *cough*

"Dear Sanna,
I know I ain't too good with words an' the like, I never been good at puttin' 'em together. Actually, that's why I'm doin' this as a video. I can't write worth a crap, but I wanted you ta know how I feel."

*he fidgets again, as though not sure he wants to go on, then eventually does so despite his obvious misgivings.*

"Anyway, Most people say you ain't real. I know you brought me things when I was home with the folks, but since I left I ain't heard or seen from ya. Mom says you visit an' leave stuff for me, which she sends to me, but for some reason, everyone else onboard seems ta snicker at me when she does. Maybe this year you could come to Serenity an' prove 'em wrong."

*He shrugs, then speaks again, seeming to gain steam.*

"Anyway, Christmas gifts. Now, I know I ain't the kinda guy who asks for things for other people, but this year...well...I'm still not. Bring Mal a nice big lump a coal. He deserves it for always raggin' on me.

"Get Kaylee a man, so she'll stop her whining for ten seconds so I don't have to listen to 'er.

"Get Wash better flyin' skills. I'm sick 'a all the bumpy rides I knock my head on cause he don't know what the hell he's doin' up there.

"Give Zoe a bit o' freedom. That damn woman is attached to Mal's hip, no matter how much she claims to be married to Wash. Mebbe if she grew a pair and stood up to Mal, he wouldn't be so full o' himself.

"Fer the Doc...well, get him an' that Moon-brain sister 'a his off the gorram ship. They'd be better off, an' so would I."

*He snickers for a second, then continues, really getting into it.*

"An' get Innara somethin' shiney. She deserves it for always puttin' up with Mal's crap.

"As fer me...well...Vera could always use a big sister. Vacuum casing for 'er would be nice too, but I know how spendy that can be...if'n ya can't get that, then I'd like some grenades with a lil' more kick, like them MarshalCorps T-4559 Frags. Most frags only have a standard amount of kick. Sometimes, if I'm in a tight place, a single gernade ain't enough to hold 'em back."

*he frowns for a second, then immediately gets defensive of his own comments*

"I mean, not that I ain't got what it takes to take 'em out myself, but sometimes there's just too many and you need a good, strong gernade...and too often all you've got on hand are the wimpy ones."

*he nods, seeming satisfied with the justification, and goes on*

"Anyhow, I could also use one of them new know, the one with the contour grip an' hair trigger? I forget which company makes 'em, 'cause they're fresh on the market, but I hear tell they'll nail a feller in the head from fifty paces an' the kick ain't hardly nothin'."

*He sighs wistfully, as though he witnessed it as a fond memory, then moves towards the end*

"Well..If you see my folks before I do, tell 'em I love and miss 'em, an' that I know I haven't sent 'em anything in a bit, but we haven't had a good job. I'll be sure to send 'em some next time we pull somethin' good. An' tell Mattie to stop stressin' about a lovelife so much. Makes a person have even less luck. Just look at Kaylee.

"Well...I s'pose I'd better go...Oh, and don't tell any of the crew I sent you this, else I won't never hear the end of it, an' that'll put me in a right bad mood. Might be you Vera looks fer next time."

*He pauses for a minute, frowning, then grins sheepishly*

"...wait, never mind that. Threatenin' Santa ain't such a hot idea, and I really want them grenades. Anyway, hope you come soon, so that way I can rub it in everyone's faces that you're real, just like Mom tells. Well...later."

*he moves forward again, and the camera once more looses focus. It jiggles a bit, then is lifted off the stand, and turned to face the wall of Jayne's bunk, wiggling a lot. Eventually, the single phrase 'How do you turn this gorram thing off' floats by before, seconds later, the image cuts*

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 4:10 AM


Nice companion piece, MythArchangel

*he nods, seeming satisfied with the justification, and goes on*

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 4:56 AM


I thought Jayne would ask for someone female and mostly naked and willing to share his bunk for a night or two. No-one on the crew - just one of Santa's eager helpers <G>.

Vera <Can I volunteer?!!!>>

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 2:38 PM


absolutely hilarious on the River letter schooner! laughed out loud over and over again! i would like more details on how to calculate my own naughty-to-niceness ratio :)

good on the Jayne response too mytharchangel.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 9:57 AM


Thank you all for your comments, I'm flattered. Feedback is always the best present.

MythArchangel: Very nice companion piece! Really like how you got Jayne's voice down.

PhyreLight: Hope you and your bro are having a peaceful holiday this year

valeriebean: If River can't figure the math out, I'm not gonna try to.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006 3:54 PM


That was great. I'll have to read it again over Christmas Eve and Christmas, because I have to work, and I'm going to need a good laugh. I love River wish for Simon. Great stuff. Big Grin here.

Monday, February 12, 2007 9:15 AM


Just found this now, and it was a lovely little piece to read! Very enjoyable. The presents for the crew were perfect, and I think you had River's voice down - only she would debate the "real-ness" of Santa and try to work out exactly how naughty or nice she was!

Also, MythArchangel, I loved the Jayne companion piece, very funny! Again spot-on with the voice, and I like the little nod to Nathan's line from the Firefly bloopers.

Great work :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 7:21 PM


People often have trouble balancing the genius, the crazy, and the girlishness. I think you've got just the right mix, and it's damn funny. Also, the basic concept--a letter to Santa--is very imaginative.

Favorite bits:
"For my brother Simon: a clue...a new pair of shoes if you cannot find a big enough clue." Hi-larious, without making River sound too disdainful of her brother (many authors fall into this trap).
"Could you cross-reference with God...?" In light of Book and River's conversations regarding the Bible, this was extra-special clever.
"I like you, even if you are not real. I'm not sure I am either." Sweet and sad at once, especially given her consciousness that she will never be the girl she was before.
The only fuzzy part for me was her wish list for Mal. My best guess is that River was the present opened before Christmas (she did come in a box), that the other presents were the rest of his crew, and that the straggler would be a kid of his own. How'd I do?
Great stuff!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 2:26 AM


@Ariane - I like your interpretation. River's wish for Mal is actually from the Greek myth of Pandora. She was a perfect person, given a box and told not to open it by the gods. Being curious, she opened it. Inside were creatures that represented all the hardships of the world, and opening the box released these hardships to plague mankind. The only creature who stayed in the box (the last straggler) was Hope. River's wish for Mal, who has seen more than his share of hardships, is for him to have hope again, and maybe love too.
Thank you all for the great comments!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 8:47 AM


Aw. I think I like it better your way. Present opened too early... shoulda caught that, 'cause I do know my myths. Still, I really like that River thinks it would be shiny for Inara to bring it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007 5:05 PM


This was a sheer delight to read!

Saturday, May 5, 2007 12:31 AM


I read this when you first posted it but got called away from the pc so I never finished it. Glad I've had the opportunity to rediscover. Fav bit: River's present for Simon. hermitsrest

Saturday, September 1, 2007 12:14 PM


Ya know what would be a nice addition to this piece, would be to see River hand it to Mal or Simon asking him to post it for her and Mal's reaction to it.

Friday, January 18, 2008 1:16 PM


I LOVE IT!!! Awesome River-ness- I think you got the perfect mix. I can just see her writing this, and reading out loud as she goes :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 7:34 AM


very nice


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