Getting a message to Saint Nick has never been easy.
Illustration by Addison Eaton
Every year, thousands of little cherubs and rascals try their hands at letters to Santa. As their own attorneys in the court of naughty and nice, they make a case for a verdict that will award them their fantasy presents, whether that be dolls, a new bicycle, peace on Earth, or a just lifetime supply of fun dip and pixie sticks. But where and how to send these adorable holiday missives? The North Pole has a notoriously understaffed post office, and Santa, despite his other good qualities and considerable patience has never really been much of a reader, anyway. This year, as always, these important polar dispatches will be sent by many means, the necessary thing being that the toys, fun, and candy flow in kind.
Some creative Texas tots apparently went the airmail route, clipping their letters to balloons, and letting them float into the wild blue yonder. Residents of Molina, Florida, where the Christmas messages later touched down, were kind enough to re-balloon the letters, assisting them on their way to the top of the world.
Mattel toys, in an unseasonably greedy move and a blatant appropriation of traditional elfish culture, set up their own online “letters to Santa” template, where the young, impressionable, and wanty could choose from a list of this year’s Mattel toys to attach to their memos to St. Nick. The letters were then forwarded to the children’s parents, who were prodded by both the company as well as by traditional nagging techniques to purchase the products. Dirty trick, Mattel.
But some kids still prefer good old snail mail. Each Christmas, children all over the world make the perfectly reasonable mistake of believing the North Pole’s zip code to be 12345. In fact, that zip belongs to another magical, snow-covered locale: Schenectady, New York, administrative center for the company General Electric. Every year, GE employees volunteer their lunch breaks for responding to children’s letters that end up in the upstate city by “mistake.” The Schenectady Daily Gazette has a slideshow of these Santa substitutes and some of the winning communiqués they receive.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
No matter how you send your letter, just remember that there was a time (about 100 years ago) when the Post Office would destroy its letters to Santa—believe it or not, professional relief organizations and charities led the drive to keep the jolly old sleigh rider’s mail unopened. Somehow concerned that they wouldn’t be able to verify the actually neediness of the child or where the letters had come from, these overly-serious scolds warned that answering Santa’s letters would lead kids “down the road of begging, mail fraud, and a life of crime.” But an angry public and a media that even then loved its cute “soft news” stories fought the grinchy groups and the Post Office was forced to relent, eventually leading to today’s official Letters to Santa program. Slate has the story. And if this year, you get the hankering to help a certain chubby saint out with his mail, you can find out how to adopt a letter to Santa here, with groups like NYC’s Operation Santa.