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When Santa Claus gets your letter …

November 18, 2015
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Next week we put out our mailbox for Letters to Santa. We are anticipating letters from children young people with a chronological age in the single digits. It's really a finite period of time children believe in Santa Claus. As infants they usually are pictured squalling because the big guy with the white beard is not one of their people and it's weird and probably time for a nap.

I hope children today still hear "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore (T'was the Night before Christmas when all through the house"), sing "Jolly Old St. Nicholas," even with its toy wishes reflecting traditional gender assignments. I hope they learn about the different visages of Santa Claus, and the different traditions around the world, and among cultures represented right here in Emmet County. I highly recommend the book, "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" by L. Frank Baum. It's from 1902, but is a very informative biography of Santa Claus, if not of the actual person, St. Nicholas. I think it's important to know the man before you set out to write a letter.

If you ask me, it's a little too early to be decorating for Christmas, dressing in festive clothes of red and green, or singing or listening to Christmas music. But the world is more than one and it's here, kicking off with tonight's Parade of Lights and Chocolate Walk, and with this month of giving to the Community Christmas Project.

And if the letters are to reach the North Pole in time, I suppose it's time to write to Santa Claus.

The best part, I think, is the actual letter writing. It's a lost art. No one has nice pens anymore, and while a great ink pen used to be a fine gift for an adult, they seem to be barely a need now. I still like getting new legal pads, notecards or stationery complete with a fresh new pen or two. I wish I was a better correspondent.

When I was a child, I had it down to a system. I'd closely read the ads from local toy stores, Radio Shack (where they had battery-fun toys like Merlin and Speak & Spell), and Sears to make my list. I grew tall early, so the whole department store Santa's lap thing only thrilled me until one said, "My, my, you're a solid piece of work! And look at those feet!"

At the retirement community where my grandparents lived as Arizona snowbirds, my grandpa was the Santa for their Christmas festivities. His name was Rudolf (Swedish) and he had a ruddy complexion and a slightly sunburned red nose, was definitely chubby from decades of lefse and lingonberry jelly and had a raspy voice just made to yell, "Ho! Ho! Ho!" He also owned a red plush Santa suit, which I'm sure helped.

That was all the '70s. Of course I have a grown up Christmas list today, and like Mariah Carey's a lot of it has to do with peace as we face more incidents of war.

I'm honestly not that comfortable going into all this when it's nearly 2 weeks from December. But it is time to start considering our letters to Santa. So I will.

We know that Santa lives in all of us, in the spirit of generosity, in the love of community. I hope my wish for a wealth of gifts to the Community Christmas project from all over the community comes true. I hope to spend time with those I love, near and far, friends and family old and new.

For the children, I hope you consider carefully what you most want right now, and tell Santa in your letter either how good you've been, or if this hasn't been your year, how good you will be in the coming year. Life isn't about displaying perfection. It's about growing and learning. Certainly share with Santa the toys and gadgets you'd like to have, but also, if you feel you might be in a grey area, let Santa know that naughtiness is sometimes a path to learning, and that you're a bit more grown up and a bit better than you were last year.



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