Synopsis: Writing a 'Letter to Santa' is an important and fun
tradition for the children of the world
and their parents or guardians.
However, this year it is threatened by the United States Postal Service.
The fear of 'Amtrax' has delayed (or destroyed) the 'Letters to Santa drop box'.
The Postal Service has a special web site and there are many other sites where
children can impersonally try to contact Santa. G-Ma Lori tells the
readers about the letters written by her grandchildren and what was involved in
mailing them to the North Pole. One more time children are face to face
with terrorism and are in need of you Parents of Vigilance to help solve this
battle for tradition.
Letter to Santa 2001
Terrorism Tries To Stop Kids
Sending Santa Christmas Letters
I can write my name…do I get to write my own letter to Santa this year,”
three-year-old Sarah squealed with excitement.
“Yes, Sarah, you learned how to write your name
so you could get your own Library Card right after your third birthday. Now
it’s time you can write to Santa,” answered her five-year-old brother, Matt,
with great aplomb as he commandeered the conversation. He wrote to Santa
last year and the year before. His Voice pitched high as he continued.
“Sarah, do you know where Santa lives?” Matt
flaunted his Christmas knowledge.
“Santa lives in a house with his helpers,” Sarah
ventured. “He works all year to make toys for us.”
“Oh –h-h, Sarah, Santa lives at the cold…cold
North Pole in his workshop. There are your penguins, reindeer and
your favorite animals--polar bears up there, too. Santa
dresses so warm he sweats a lot. His face is red…but not from wearing
all those clothes…but from smiling
so much. He has a wife…but she doesn’t make any toys.
And there is an Auntie Claus, too,” Matt didn’t take a breath. He continued
as he always did, like a runaway train. "And she lets kids visit there
sometimes. I think he has seven helper elves, maybe more.” Matt finally
took a deep breath. I was always awed by his desire to say what he wanted
to say in one fell swoop.
“I want to visit Santa, too,”
Sarah turned her attention to me. “G-Ma can Auntie Claus take us to
see Santa and his elves?” she grabbed my hand and flashed her chocolate-eyed stare up at me—the
kind of look you can’t say no to.
“Well, Sarah, I’ll do some checking around, but I
think you both should plan on only writing to Santa this year.”
I regretted they’d received the book last year about Auntie Claus.
It suggested that good children were taken by Auntie Claus to visit Santa
and his workshop and pick out the toys they wanted. The implication was
that “bad kids” were excluded. I was a little upset at Auntie Clause. I
wished Christmas story authors would be more realistic so kids like Sarah
and Matt wouldn’t be misled and think they were missing out on some
Christmas fun if they didn’t get to go, or, that they might think they were
“bad.” I was about to offer some explanation when Matt came to my rescue.
“Sarah, Sarah, I think the kids whose Daddies or
Mommies were crunched by the Towers falling will probably be the only kids
going this year,” wisely suggested Matt.
He was forever amazing me with his intuition. “You and I will
just mail our letters to Santa this year. Maybe next year we
can visit Santa.” His practical outlook reinforced his intuition.
plan, Matt.” I lovingly patted his blonde head. “That’s so nice of you
to think of those kids without a mommy or daddy. That’s very
thoughtful.” I looked deeply at him. He was off somewhere
in his mind, where children go to think and play with thoughts.
Only these thoughts were different. Somewhere in his mind, he
was seeing the aftermath of a disaster, reminding me, an adult, that the
child had not forgotten those who died, or the impact on their lives.
It reinforced the reasons why Semper Vigilantes is important—that I never
forget to be vigilant to a child’s feelings, or underestimate his or her ability to sense both
pain and compassion.
“Matt, let’s start thinking of your Christmas List.” His
eyes beamed. “ I heard you talking to Sarah about roller skates so you can
skate with your Daddy Joe? Is that what you want to put down on your list?”
I had seen Matt a few days ago wearing his
Daddy’s skates when I was ‘on duty.’ He was trying to skate inside the
apartment. He didn’t perform too badly. I thought the wished-for item
worthwhile as long as Santa also provided him the appropriate safety
gear—helmet, knee and elbow pads--similar to those his Daddy wore. They
would make a striking father-son duo, that’s for sure.
“ I like the Buzz Lightyear toy, too, G-Ma. He
was a superhero when we saw the Ice Show last week.” Matt adores his
superheroes and switches around from Underdog, Superman, Batman, Spiderman
and now BuzzLightyear. He loves to portray one of the heroes rescuing
people in need. Saving the downtrodden, the unprotected, and victims all
over the world anytime, anywhere is one of his favorite make-believe games.
He is a superhero in apprenticeship.
Matt had his red crayon poised over the paper, as
though he picked the color to punctuate the warmth of the Christmas season.
“G-Ma, how do you spell ‘dear’ so I can begin writing my letter. I already
know how to spell Santa.”
“D – E – A – R” I rattled each letter quickly off to him. His
penmanship wasn’t his forte but he promised he would try to slow down and
write neater. “The next homework paper, G-Ma. The next paper.” I smiled.
Boys will be boys.
“’S ‘ is for Santa and ‘S’ is for Sarah,” Sarah
sang. “G-Ma will you help me write my letter to Santa?” She
guided my hand over to her waiting piece of paper. “I like skates too, G-Ma,
and dollies. I want to say ‘I Love You’ to Santa, too. Write that,
G-Ma” she imperiously commanded.
“How do you ask, Sarah?” I gently admonished my
little honey-bear to remember her manners.
“Please, G-Ma, please?” She emphatically
stuck a green crayon in my hand and forcefully closed the appropriate
fingers around it. She moved her blank letter underneath my hand and yelled
in my ear “Write, please, G-Ma, write my letter to Santa. And…I can
sign my name!”
As told me what she wanted, I transcribed her
wishes. “G-Ma tell me a story of when my mommy wrote a letter to Santa,” she
cajoled as I wrote.
I thought back to when I was a child. How
important it had been then to write Santa a letter. I was glad we were
doing it as a family—keeping the tradition alive. Then I thought about
September 11th. I thought how important it was for children to
depend on traditions such as writing to Santa. Traditions provide an
ongoing sense of continuity and are a source of strength for the entire
family. The simple act of writing to Santa keeps the belief in community
As I responded To Sophia’s “wish list” I couldn’t
help wonder about the Terrorism the Post Office was bringing upon the
children of New York City. Children were not allowed to mail letters to
Santa this year because the Postal Service was fearful of Anthrax. The
North Pole, I thought, is being terrorized.
I wondered how a mother would explain to her child that the post
office wasn’t taking letters to Santa this year. Perhaps, I thought, the
child might think Santa was going to get sick from Anthrax and possibly die.
I had been in the Cooper Union Post Office a few days ago and didn’t see the
Santa drop box that was always present in years past.
I checked out the Internet when I arrived home and was amazed to
see that the usual Santa Letter mail boxes were electronically replaced by
www.santaletter.com and various e-mail addresses go talk to Santa
Children were encouraged to send Santa an e-mail and told he would
respond. (Of course, they weren’t offering to buy a computer for parents who
couldn’t afford one so they could send an e-mail. They conveniently eliminated
that little fact). Parents with their children (who could afford a
computer and an on-line service) could even access the archives of
letters to Santa from the US Postal Service
http://www.USS.gov/letters as if letter writing were passé.
I hope this doesn’t mean the death of the simple but meaningful
‘letter to Santa’. I tried to imagine a child pounding out a letter to
Santa on his/her keyboard to be received by Santa on his impersonal e-mail.
I compared it to the “old way,” where I
imagined Santa and Mrs. Claus laboriously reading scribbled missives they
carefully held up to the light and close to their noses in order to decipher
them, chuckle over them. That image was a far cry from an “electronic
Naturally, I didn’t want to share my
postal-resentment with my two little elves. They didn’t need me to tell
them the Post Office “killed Santa Letters.” They didn’t need to know most
of the kids who write Santa don’t have computers; and, can’t write very
well. As a Grandparent of Vigilance, I would protect them from the
Terrorism of the Post Office.
So we proceeded ‘as if Santa hadn’t left the Postal Building,’ just
as I knew Elvis hadn’t left Kalamazoo. Sarah and Matt carefully folded
their letters, placed them in envelopes, and Matt wrote: “To Santa Claus at
the North Pole” on both of them. I told them I would take them to the post
office the next morning. And, I was going to, despite what I thought was
postal anti-Santa policy.
“Great job, both of you, little elves.” I
hugged them close. They were my rainbows and I was blessed to see their
palate of colors and love radiate on a daily basis.
The next morning I walked to the local Post
Office without the little ones since I wasn’t sure what I would encounter.
Again, I wasn’t able to locate a Santa drop box. I stood in the long line
of anxious customers until I faced a surprisingly cheery clerk. She gladly
took the precious letters from me, listened to my fears about being
terrorized and un-traditionalized, sympathized with me and then assured me
the special letters would be placed in a special container, to
be opened, checked for a white powdery substance (not seasonal snow flakes),
and then forwarded to Santa at the main post office.. I was somewhat mollified and my terror
As a Grandparent of Vigilance I felt I should
take further action to get a Santa Letter Box prominently displayed. I felt
if a child came in to send his or her letter, the terror of Santa not
wanting it would be upsetting.
I marched over to the ‘Customer Service’ window to talk with the
clerk. I assured him ‘I wasn’t going to go postal’ and only wanted to make
a comment. I related that children were being terrorized by the Post Office
because there was no evident place to put their letters to Santa. He
grouchily informed me ‘the matter was still pending a decision from the high
mucky mucks’ and for now the letters had to be taken to the main window and
be hand delivered by the sender. This meant a child had to stand in a long
Christmas line with irritated people and parents, and then show the Postal
Clerk they weren’t a Terrorist, and perhaps vow there was no anthrax in
I told him I understood the need for vigilance, and I almost did.
The Post Office wanted people to be accountable for what they place
in the mail. They were being overly cautious, hoping a terrorist
wouldn’t walk up to a window and personally mail a poisoned letter.
I suggested, perhaps a notice might be placed by the entry
so the eager children would know there is a special
spot in which to place their important letters.
As I left, I hoped
the “high mucky mucks” would quickly make a decision, including
at least a sign. If they didn’t, then Santa wouldn’t
get much mail this year, and, a bunch of kids might think Santa
didn’t care, was afraid, or complacent. Terrorism at
the Post Office, does send a special delivery message to our children—what
the post office should do, is cancel Terrorism for Christmas.
To Sophia 9: "Traditions Overpower Terrorism"