When Santa looks over his list of people on the campus of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, he’s probably pretty encouraged by the people he sees. Surprisingly, most people at UAFS have short -- but interesting -- lists for Santa.
Urban forester Alison Litchy of Barling is apparently never far away from her profession.
“I want a mature ginkgo biloba tree for the campus,” she said. “It’s a living fossil that’s been on earth since before the dinosaurs.”
Amber Wright of West Fork is a theatre major who also ties Christmas wishes to career.
“I want a beach house in California,” said Wright. “I’d live there with my friends, and we’d watch films. This is all for my career -- because of my major.”
Mostafa Salem of Cairo, Egypt, added the idea of a gift he said makes sense while it helps him -- a house shaped like a pyramid.
“When I tell people I come from Egypt, they want to know if I live in a pyramid,” he said. “So, I would like Santa to please bring me a house that’s shaped like a pyramid.”
Dr. Dave M. McGinnis of Muldrow, Okla., assistant professor of chemistry, is completely practical -- and clever -- in his approach to Christmas getting.
“I’d like a time machine,” said McGinnis. “That way, I could go back and invest money in companies like Apple, Google and others during their early stages.”
The financial pressures of the season also bring the issue of money to the forefront for students, including Syda (Nit) Xaymongkhoun of Fort Smith, who makes a practical request.
“Santa, I wish for help to buy textbooks for next semester. I will be very thankful for all that I receive and promise to be good!”
Taylor Smith of Mansfield, a media communications major, also had financial wishes.
“Would you please pay off my student loans this Christmas?” Smith writes. “That would be so wonderful. And then I’d do something really responsible, like go shopping for pageant dresses.”
Saul Avila of Fort Smith is a nursing major who’s more interested in where you go than what you have.
“Oh, Santa, could you please bring me a trip to Costa Rica?” he said. “I’d be very happy. I’d just surf and relax and take pictures of nature. That would be a great Christmas present.”
Olan James of Fort Smith, a ticketing agent in the campus and community events office, wants to see different places.
“Would you please bring me a role in ‘The Amazing Race,’ and then I’ll see the world. I don’t need a whole season. I just want to see some faraway places.”
Masa Podunavac, a biology major from Belgrade Serbia, said she’d rather go home than go away.
“I just wish Santa would please bring me return tickets to Belgrade so that I can go see my friends and family,” she said. “I want to eat some Serbian food. I miss sarma most of all. It’s meat and rice rolled in cabbage leaves, and it’s so good. And I miss my family. So that would be good.”
No matter what or who students, staff and faculty are, “Mom” seems to be part of the holiday thinking process.
“Oh, Santa, please bring me my mom,” said Ange Edzomek-Bekalle from Libreville, Gabon. “I want her to cook for me and clean and do my laundry and help me study.”
Kristina Segura, a surgical tech student from Van Buren, said she wants to take her mom on a trip to Cancun.
“I’ve been there before and it was perfect.” said Segura. “I want to go back in the summer when the sun is perfect. We’d stay at the Gran Caribe Real Hotel. That’s nice. And I would eat everything! The food is fantastic.”
Some people on the campus are thinking about gifts for others.
“This Christmas wish issue is a tough question,” said biology major Liz Casanova of Fort Smith. “I've been giving this some heavy thought, and here's what I came up with. An issue that constantly weighs heavily on my mind is the fact that so many children in our area go without. So, my one wish would be that Santa would support local agencies that need help -- specifically, the Backpack Program and the Children's Emergency Shelter.”
Lisa Magallanes of Greenwood, Student Government Association president, had a metaphysical approach to Christmas wishes.
“You know what would be great this year?” she asked. “An answer to everything.”
Stacey Jones of Fort Smith, associate vice chancellor for campus and community events, is thinking in broad terms when it comes to Christmas wishes.
“Could you help get people to engage their minds more and help them become more involved in things like elections, current events and education?” he asked. “I wish you could help people understand that they can make a difference.”
But when it all simmers down to the essentials of the Christmas wish business, there comes a point in life when some people find out they have everything they need and then begin to contemplate the reason for the season.
“No need to bring me anything,” said John Martini of Fort Smith assistant professor of electronics technology. “I have Jesus in my heart, and he provides all of my needs.”