Letters to Santa 2001

 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
From Sending Santa Christmas Letters

    “Hey, G-Ma, 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.

         “Good 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 strong..

      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 online. 
          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 submission.”

      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), sterilized and then forwarded to Santa at the main post office.. I was somewhat mollified and my terror lessened.

         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 Santa’s letter.

         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.


Go To Sophia 9: "Traditions Overpower Terrorism"


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