The Children's Christmas Party for my workplaces'employees' families was held last Saturday. Our corporate office was transformed into a winter wonderland and each boardroom was set up into a different activity station. One of those stations was a place to write and "mail" a letter to Santa complete with your wish list.
Santa and Mrs. Claus made a stop (side note: why doesn't she have a first name? It's 2011 people!) and took the letters back to the North Pole with them to peruse over milk and cookies, in between preparing for the big sleigh ride.
This morning, all of the letters written to Santa were read and each letter generated a handwritten responding letter from the Big Guy himself (AKA the group of ghost writers working on his behalf).
Here are some tips I have for parents who help their kids write these sort of things:
1)Make sure you include your full address, so a response can be sent back. I get that we tell kids to behave and that Santa has the ability to know what you are up to when and where at all times so he should therefore already know your address. Maybe you could swing it that mail can only be delivered if there is a return address attached. A few kids didn't get responses today because of this. And that's unfortunate.
2)I am unable to guarantee to a kid that his wishlist will be fulfilled. So when the letter is only full of wants formatted in bullet points, I am not too sure what to write to the child to make it seem personal. I did swing a few different approaches (my favorite was for the child wishing for a light saber and I wrote to him about how I loved Star Wars and the Ewoks reminded me of the elves every time I watched the movies), but the kids I had the most fun responding to were the ones who actually asked me questions about the weather, how busy the elves and I were, what kind of cookies I would love to have left out, etc. etc. Those responses will probably spark more of the magic in those kids when they get them.
3)On that note, I also really appreciated the one and only child who hoped I would have a really nice break during New Years after all of the toys were delivered. He understood that "I" was working hard most of the year to make sure a lot of those wish lists were completed. And the kids that asked that toys get sent to less fortunate children showed me that parents out there were trying to showcase the true meaning of the season.
4)Finally, can you please stop telling your child to ask Santa for that new iPhone 4S or the new big screen television (HD) (for real, a child placed that in brackets to let me know that anything not HD would probably not be tolerated) or the millions of other electronics asked for. The legend is I have a toy shop up at the North Pole where I hire elves who can build toys.There is no electronics department and there is no Apple retail store. And if there was, it looks like more and more toys are going to be shipped to the Island of Misfit Toys because nobody wants them anymore.
I'm lucky that the letters I responded to were lighthearted and showed the innocence of childhood. I have heard sad stories from others that have donated time to respond to letters to Santa with requests from children wishing for less divorces, family violence, and the delivery of basic needs. Those are the kids that deserve what they are asking for the most. And I really do wish I could be Santa Claus to grant those wishes.