Letters to Santa

{Addresses for Santa Claus to receive a reply}

This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on December 5, 2012.

I’ve created a tradition of having my six-year-old write a letter to Santa every November, and he loves doing this.  He definitely wants Santa to know what he’s wishing for.

My son doesn’t know it, but I use the opportunity to let him practice his handwriting and learn about letter writing.  Usually I let him dictate what he wants to say, and I write it down, and then I have him copy it in his handwriting, or either I call out how to spell the words like I did with the one above. I also have him watch me address the envelope and fill in a return address.

I addressed our letter simply to “Santa Claus, North Pole,” and the year before last, I stealthily stashed a postage stamp into the envelope without my son noticing.  We got a reply back from Santa before Christmas that year, and since I remembered to do it again this year, I hope we get another reply.

I haven’t tried it, but according to The Christmas Almanac (published 2003 by Welcome Books), you can guarantee a response by secretly enclosing your own “reply from Santa” and sending it to Santa c/o Det. 2, 11th WS, Eilson AFB, Alaska, 99702.  Elves working for the Air Force Weather Squadron will turn the mail around so that your child receives the reply.  Be sure to send your letter before Dec. 10th in order to get a reply back before Christmas.

The Christmas Almanac also gives an alternate address, and you’re supposed to receive an authentic North Pole postmark if you send a self-address stamped envelope to Postmaster, Attn: Steve Cornelius, North Pole Branch U.S. Post Office, 325 Santa Claus Lane, North Pole, Alaska 99705-9998.

In “Letters to Santa full of chuckles, but also tears” on TODAY via NBCNEWS.com, I read that the U.S. Postal Service receives hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa each year, with increases during tough economic times.

The article describes the research done by Carole Slotterback, a psychology professor who wrote the book, “The Psychology of Santa.”  She analyzed approximately 1,200 letters sent to Santa between 1998 and 2003.

“From the humorous to the heart-wrenching, children’s wish lists to Santa reveal that children aren’t as toy-centric as parents think,” the article states.

This doesn’t surprise me.  Children can be amazingly selfless when they want to be, especially when they have dealt with hardship in their life. I’d wager that children who are a little selfish actually have a good life at home with parents who love them unconditionally.

Slotterback said that one child asked to be an elf, another said “NO CLOTHES,” and another asked for a mom. What did my child ask for?  A rocket. Then he was concerned because he couldn’t think of anything else to ask for. Yep. That’s a child who has a good life.

The article also said that children weren’t always as polite as they should be.  “You’d think if you were asking for a lot of presents, you would throw in a ‘please’ or a ‘thank you,’” she said.

Uh oh. I opened my photo program and looked at the picture I took of my son’s letter.  Ah, shucks! I forgot to have him write, “thank you.” Oh well. (I did tell him it was polite to start a letter wishing a person well.) I guess even mamas need a reminder to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ sometimes.

***

Do you let your children write letters to Santa Claus?  Do you do Santa Claus at your house?  I know many parents don’t like to lie to their children about Santa, and I tend to agree, but after much thought, I have decided to let my children believe in Santa Claus.  It’s a treasured memory of mine from my childhood, and I feel no resentment toward my parents for lying to me about it.  In fact, I think I’d be angry with my parents now, if they had not done it!  What is your take on this debate?

9 thoughts on “Letters to Santa

  1. I’m struggling with the whole Santa thing. It does feel like lying, and as I child I experienced it as lying. I was humiliated that my parents, older brother and sisters and even teachers all went along with the Santa myth at my expense. That’s how it felt, and I felt it for years. It negitively colored my entire childhood I would even say as I completely lost trust for all adults. My brother has brought up his children – 7 of them now ranging in age from 13 to 23 – with just pretending that “Santa is a fun thing to believe.” Not one of the seven feels resentment, actually they all seem to trust their parents even into their teen years much more than most kids I know. On the other hand, I have a 4.5 year old who desperately wants to believe in Santa and a husband who thinks I’m the grinch for wanting to tell her the truth. I’ve kept my comments about Santa to her minimal and vague, but when she inevitable asks me the direct “Is he real?” question, I wil tell her that it’s just a fun thing to believe. I know most people who grow up with the Santa thing have fond memories, but I’ve met enough people who felt like I did, and I never want my child to feel hurt and betrayed by me like that.
    So, that’s my take.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Peggy. I wish more people would comment about this. I think you have a valid concern, especially since you felt that way growing up. I’m curious ~ how did you find out it wasn’t the truth? How old were you? I really don’t know why it never bothered me. I wonder what the differences are for people who get angered by it and for those who are not. My friend told me the other day that she and her husband tried to tell their son that Santa was a fun game people liked to play, and he told them emphatically that Santa was real. She said they could tell he wasn’t going to accept that there wasn’t a Santa, so they are going along with it, and since they never actually lied to him, they feel a little better about it. I certainly don’t want my children to feel betrayed, yet I really don’t know in which way they might feel betrayed ~ having been lied to about Santa or not being able to experience Santa.

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      1. I guess it took me a while to reply to this… I haven’t forgotten, just gotten busy – and then a bit too sad. Anyway, I’m actually not sure when the moment of truth was – maybe that’s why it bothered me so much? I remember believing, but having classmates tell me it’s not true and arguing with them. I guess after that I asked more questions at home. I think that’s the point where if my parents had told me the truth – when other kids had questioned and then I was questioning – I would have been OK. But they, like many parents, came up with lots of reasons and stories to try to explain away my doubts. At some point between first and thrid grade age I figured it out but my family still kept up the charade. I don’t think my mom told me until I was 4th grade-ish, maybe, and by then I was already pretty angry internally about it and felt insulted that my parents still thought I believed. So, I can totally see where it is fine to go along with it when your kids are very little, especially, like your friend’s experience, they tell you they really want to believe. That’s where my daughter is now. As I’m typing this I’m actually working out some stuff in my head, so thanks. I’m thinking it’s the time developmentally when they start questioning reality and fantasy – like asking HOW can Santa be at two malls at once and HOW can that guy actually fit though the chimney or WHY did so and so get more/less presents than me? Then maybe they are asking for the truth and not more stories?

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      2. Thank you for responding to my questions, Peggy. After our first exchange, it got me thinking too, and I do think that it’s important to not go overboard on the Santa thing….talking about him, too many presents from him, etc. etc. Just let it be fun, but don’t insult the kid. If kids are questioning a lot, then honor them by telling them the truth or helping them figure it out on their own. My son is always asking me questions, and the other night I decided to respond with, “What do you think?” instead of answering his question with a vague lie. I can remember having one of my neighbors telling me that Santa wasn’t real when I was a child, and I told her he was, but I don’t remember a lot of other kids talking about it. I kept believing for quite a long time…I can’t remember how old I was when I figured it out. Maybe 9? But I remember finally asking my mom if Santa was real, and she told me the truth. Perhaps that is the key…when the kids are intelligent enough to figure it out, don’t keep trying to make them believe it.

        I have also been thinking about what I DO believe about Santa now as an adult. I do think he represents the Spirit of Giving, and that’s something we can always believe in. I’m considering coming up with some kind of story for my son with that kind of theme in it, and perhaps if I think of it that way, I can come up with better answers to his questions.

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    1. I think the important difference between God and Santa is that most people who tell their kids that God exists really believe it themselves while they know they are the ones buying the gifts under the tree. But I also don’t plan on telling my children what to believe about God either. I will tell them my truth, that some people believe and some don’t and that they need to decide for themselves what to believe. That doesn’t mean I won’t read them bible stories or expose them to religion. Just like I will read them other myths and legends. Yes, they are all important stories and we can learn a lot from them without taking them as “fact.” But I do think a huge part of my job as a parent is to help my children tell the difference between a good story and something that is fact. They’ll get enough people telling them their own “truths,” such a politicians and advertisers, in their life, I don’t need to be one of them.

      And that, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” doesn’t resonate with me. It is based on the belief that the real world is dreary and you must make up fantasies to be happy and wondrous. I find many things to be quite wonderful and mysterious in the real world. Monarch butterflies that migrate thousands of miles each winter and end up in the same place as their ancestors. Bees taking a little bit of nectar from hundreds of flowers and making it into honey. The huge maple in my yard that looks quite dead all winter and then sprouts big green leaves each spring. That one amazes me every single year. The way the human baby is born – almost always perfect with not only all their fingers and toes, but the capacity to learn to walk and talk and think for themselves! How is that not wondrous enough? In fact, the more I learn about the way the world and nature works, the more amazing it becomes to me! I don’t need to believe in fairies.

      Anyway, it’s just my opinion. I share it because I think it’s important and others do see the world like I do too, even if we are not the majority. I take no issue with others telling their children that Santa is real, or anything else, for that matter.

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