I don’t have my family’s Christmas letter written yet.
That comes as no surprise to my co-workers and friends who received my first and only Christmas letter in July of last year. Yes, July.
My first daughter, MaggieBeth, was born in January 2000, and as Christmas approached 11 months later, I put together in my mind a letter boasting about this remarkable human being, but I never put my thoughts on paper. I felt guilty. I hadn’t completed a heartfelt keepsake for her.
My second daughter, Lauren, was born three days after Christmas 2000. The letter to herald MaggieBeth also would have trumpeted my excitement about Lauren’s pending arrival, and how even though I was scared about having two babies in a year’s time, how thankful I was that the girls would be so close in age.
The next year’s holiday season passed without a letter being sent by Dec. 25. I started to write it, again in my mind. Eventually I sat down at the computer, typed it and printed it out on snowman paper. That was July 2002.
Five months after that, again, no Christmas letter. Again the guilt.
This year will be different. My preschoolers are going to get a letter. Not from me, per se, but from “Santa Claus.”
Santa Claus has consumed my daughters’ every thought lately, and they have been concerned that he won’t come to their home because it doesn’t have a chimney. I’ve told them I’ve mailed Santa a special key to the apartment that I had made especially for him, and that they have to put out the reindeer food they made with oats and glitter at school on a path to the front door on Christmas Eve. That will help Santa find where they live.
Soothing the girls’ anxieties is one thing, but handling the responsibilities of preparing to make their Christmas memorable is another. A Christmas letter to family and friends, I thought, would be treasured. I would address and mail one to each of them, like I did the first letter, and leave it unopened in their baby boxes.
So in recent weeks I’ve been under self-imposed pressure to write the letter. Earlier this month, the Cincinnati Enquirer printed a story that gave the proper etiquette on what I should include in my letter and what I should not. The article suggested that I not brag too much about my daughters to friends because “too much boasting breeds resentment.”
A couple of days after the Enquirer’s piece, the U.S. Postal Service sent out a news release on how children can receive a letter from Santa, complete with a postmark from the North Pole. Traditionally, many parents tell their children they will mail their “Dear Santa” letters to Santa, but secretly keep them for when their children are older. What parents can mail is a response letter from Santa. Those letters are mailed to a postmaster in Fairbanks, Alaska, who postmarks them “North Pole” and mails them back.
After I read the Postal Service news release, I wondered what Santa Claus would say to MaggieBeth and Lauren – “I know you’ve been good girls this year, and I hope you like your new babies [dolls] that you’ve told me several times that you’ve wanted. By the way, calling me on your pretend cell phones was a good idea and I enjoyed all of our chats.”
The thought of writing that type of letter from Santa seemed rather impersonal. And with limited time to spend writing and mailing Christmas letters to family and friends, I decided that I would write each of my daughters a from-the-heart letter that “Santa” would mail to them.
One day in their lives I’m sure, I hope when they’re 90, MaggieBeth and Lauren will find out there’s no such thing as Santa Claus. They’ll figure out that Christmas presents are purchased at stores and that Santa’s elves didn’t actually make them.
On that day, I hope they open up their baby boxes. In them will be a stack of letters from Santa Claus that will be postmarked “North Pole.” And at that moment, I hope they believe in Santa Claus again.
“Dear MaggieBeth …” and “Dear Lauren …” start this year’s letters.
“Your mother found my telephone number on the Internet, as promised, and called to tell me you’ve been very good this year. I received the key to your apartment in the mail so I can get in on Christmas Eve, and the glitter you plan to spread on the path is a good idea to help guide the reindeer and me to your home. I will keep my eye out for it.
“That’s not all she has told me about you. (This is where I will brag about their accomplishments, how they’ve learned to write their names or their initials, things like that, and how the two of them have become best friends).
“Most importantly, she’s told me you’ve brought incredible happiness to her life.”
I end Santa’s letters the way I kiss them good night. “Merry Christmas, baby mousie,” Santa tells MaggieBeth. “Merry Christmas, baby Tinkerbell,” he tells Lauren. “Mama loves you bunches of bunches and bunches more.”
Deborah Turcotte is the Bangor Daily News business writer. She can be reached at 990-8133 or email@example.com.
Writing to Santa
The U.S. Postal Service and an organization called Santasmailbag.org in North Pole, Alaska, can help get a letter from Santa Claus to your child.
Both recommend that parents or caregivers help children write their letter to Santa, and then tell the child that it will be mailed. Instead of mailing the “Dear Santa” letter, they suggest putting it away for a babybook or another keepsake.
Parents or caregivers then craft a response from Santa. If the child will recognize the handwriting, ask a friend or neighbor to rewrite the letter. Include remarks on how good the child was during the last year, and positive comments about the child’s recent achievements.
Also, Santa might want to remind the child to be in bed at a certain hour, and hint that he and his reindeer appreciate holiday snacks left near the tree.
Put the response letter in an envelope addressed to the child. Then put that envelope into a second one, and address it either to the North Pole, Alaska, Post Office or to Santa’s Mail Bag. Both the U.S.Postal Service and Santa’s Mail Bag will take out the letter addressed to the child and postmark it “North Pole.”
The letter may be sent to the following addresses:
North Pole Christmas Cancellation Postmaster
5400 Mail Trail
Fairbanks, AK 99709-9998
Santa’s Mail Bag
P.O. Box 56159
North Pole, AK 99705