In the lobby of the Royal Oak Post Office stands a very special wooden container. Festively painted white, red, and green with the words “LETTERS TO SANTA” boldly emblazoned on the front, this is the vessel into which the hopes and wishes of many children are deposited each Christmas season. It has become a grand annual tradition in Royal Oak to not only collect these letters written by the nimble minds of the younger generation, but to pass them along to the Big Man himself, good ole S.C., so that he can give each one a handwritten response.
Now, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. The Big Man gets a little overwhelmed this time of year with the thousands of letters he gets, so he chooses to delegate some of this responsibility. He formed committees throughout the country. I am proud to have been anointed as the chair of the Royal Oak Elves Committee. Our job is to answer the letters from the area as if the Big Man was doing it himself. I had to get certified! Please, do not blab about this on Facebook. What I am telling you is top secret. What happens in Santa’s world stays in Santa’s world. Kapeesh?
One night, as the Elves Committee convened to do our special work, Dashing Dave (a very peculiar elf) yells over to me, “Cementhead, we got a hot one. High alert, this has to get your immediate attention.” The envelope slides my way. I find one letter written by a child, but underneath it is another letter. This one is written by an adult.
I haven’t written you a letter in over 30 years. Sorry about that. Over the last three decades I think I forgot that it is OK to ask for something when you need it. Maybe pride has prevented me from reaching out, or shame. Maybe both. I figured that since I have to get used to asking I would start with you since you are giving.
My request isn’t for myself, it’s for my son, Danny (his note is attached). His father and I are divorcing after 10 years and I fear that, with all the changes that are taking place, he may be struggling with maintaining his belief (in you) and with finding joy (and joy in giving) this holiday season.
I ask that you please give me the strength to overcome apathy and pessimism and to rise above negativity and resentment. In return, I promise to do my best to spread holiday cheer even when I am tired of the music and advertisements. I will do my best to make sure that this Christmas is just as special for Danny as those in the past in spite of a lack of resources.
Thanks so much, your faithful servant, Tammy.
The letter stopped me in my tracks. We always get one letter a year that does that. The one special letter that transcends and inspires. An adult writing to Santa, does she expect a response? Or is this just a therapeutic exercise, a catharsis for her troubled psyche? She did get a response; her very own handwritten letter from Santa.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write me. It has been a long, long time since I’ve heard from you! While I am so delighted to get a letter from you, I am also so very sorry to hear of your dilemma. Please always remember this: when you are in need, you should never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. At some point in all of our lives, even including mine, we need some form of assistance from those who surround us. That is what makes us human, and even humane.
I have no doubt that you will get through this holiday season with strength and resolve. I can sense that from your steady penmanship and fortitude of spirit. Adversity can do one of two things; it can break you or make you stronger. You will become stronger from this experience, and you will have so many happier years in front of you.
I read your letter three times, Tammy. It made my heart crinkle. I hope you don’t mind, I even shared it with Mrs. Claus. We have had our share of personal travails, thankfully we live at the North Pole where no one can hear our bickering. No one, that is, except those eavesdropping elves!
I again want to thank you for this very personal letter. I was feeling a bit overburdened and depressed because of my responsibilities, but after reading your message I feel revitalized. I guess we both need each other, and that is magical. You have given me the energy and enthusiasm to get through another maniacal Christmas season. It is true, we all have a certain amount of Santa DNA!
Your friend, Santa Claus.
Her Santa letter was mailed to her house, as well as a letter from Santa to Danny. He asked Santa for just a few toys, but also included a list for his dog Buddy. He asked Santa to bring white slippers for Mom, and for Dad this one word: Peace. Two days before Christmas Eve, a special delivery was made to Tammy and Danny’s house. A letter carrier from the United States Postal Service delivered a stack of wrapped gifts for Tammy and Danny. There were even a few things for their dog, Buddy. With one simple letter, the mundane became magical. The human spirit leaped over the crevice of crass commercialism that invades this most mystical season. Don’t stop believing!
May this New Year be the happiest of your life,
John “Elf Cementhead” Dick
Photo: Kids wait on the steps of the Royal Oak Post Office with their Santa letters. (Jackie Dick)