Jerry Davich: Letters to Santa reflect the times
Jerry Davich firstname.lastname@example.org December 13, 2012 10:02PM
Lauren Bolla, 8, with her wish list for Santa at her home in Chesterton Wednesday Dec. 12, 2012. Lauren's list includes a desire for world peace, no more wars and American Girl Doll clothes. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 15, 2013 6:11AM
Lauren Bolla opted for a rather formal yet cleverly polite greeting when writing to Santa with her Christmas wish list.
“Dear Mr. Claus, how are you?” the 8-year-old Chesterton girl wrote in a handwritten letter. “I hope you are ready for Christmas because I know kids who want a lot for Christmas.”
Lauren is certainly correct with her opening line. Every holiday season, millions of “Dear Santa” letters are written, stamped and mailed to the North Pole, packed with suggested toys, games and high-tech gadgetry. But this year’s timeless tradition has a timely twist.
Some letters are reflecting the kids’ Grinch-like home life, whether it involves a jobless father, their parents’ budget woes or the country’s tough economic times. Other kids, I’m told, are asking Santa to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
“Dear Santa, please find a new job for my Mom,” wrote a 9-year-old Gary boy whose mother shared with me his letter (whose misspellings I left intact). “My Mom lost her old one and she say it will be a bad Cristmas this year. You can scip my gifts this year if you get her a new job. Love, Troy.”
I’ve been taking a peek at several Dear Santa letters over the past couple of weeks before forwarding them to their final destination. Most of them were typical in their endless requests for Christmas presents such as iPods, laptops, Nintendo DSi games and something called a “Zoobles Spring to Life” video game, whatever that is.
A few, however, were written with more selfless requests, such as this one written by an 11-year-old Wheatfield girl.
“Dear Santa, I have plenty of games so please give my toys to those kids who’s house burned on fire in the summer,” she wrote on pink wrinkled paper. “They still live in a hotel and look sad at my school.”
Or this one penned by a Portage youngster whose parents, I later found out, are regular patrons of the local food pantry.
“Dear Santa Clause, I realy want a lot of new toys but my Daddy realy wants a big meal for christnas. Can you bring us more food? Thank you.”
The U.S. Postal Service is now in the 100th year of its “Letters to Santa” letters program, designed to match up anonymous donors with the kids who pen the letters.
“The Letters to Santa program has made dreams come true for those in need for 100 years,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a statement.
(To learn more, or to view a list of participating post offices, visit www.usps.com/holidaynews.)
But, the Postal Service says, the program’s chief of “Elf Operations,” Pete Fontana, gets so upset while reading some of the letters that he has to take pause. I’m not surprised after browsing through a few letters from local kids. Their poignant words paint a fresh portrait of an old custom.
But, fortunately, most looked similar to 8-year-old Lauren’s letter, whose polite greeting led to a tactful bargain with the big guy.
“By the way, I think I have been good this year. It would be nice if I could get a few presents. Thanks, Lauren. P.S. I will be even better next year! (If I get some presents.)”
Giving is contagious
Since I mentioned in my previous column that the same Hobart couple are again anonymously donating $2,000 to region families in need this holiday season, I’ve heard from three other people with similar Christmas wishes.
A Wanatah woman also wants to give money to those less fortunate, and she asked for my help to locate such families. At first, the woman said she could donate $300. A day later, she called me to say she could afford $1,000.
A Portage man also contacted me with a similarly generous offer, and a Crown Point family is skipping its Christmas gift exchange to donate to another family instead.
On Thursday, I met again with the Hobart couple to discuss their wishes for their donation.
“Whoever can use it,” they replied together.
I invited them on my weekly radio show to chat anonymously about the origin and meaning behind their gift idea, but they had to decline.
“We know too many people who might recognize our voices,” the wife replied.
Department of Corrections
In my Wednesday column I wrote, “Today’s numerically intriguing date — 12-12-12 — is garnering a lot of media attention and maybe it should since it is the last repetitive date EVER.”
I wrote “EVER” with tongue in cheek, thinking only of this century. But a few readers quickly pointed out other future repetitive dates in December alone, such as 12-12-2112, 12-12-2212, and so on.
For the record, I stand mathematically corrected.
Your bunker or mine?
On my “Casual Fridays” radio show Friday, I look ahead one week to the impending doom of 12-21-12 by talking with the owner of an online dating site that caters to “doomsday preppers” who don’t want to face the end of the world alone. No kidding. Talk about “Arma-get-it-on.” Tune in at noon on WLPR, 89.1-FM. Call in with your opinions at 769-9577.