Letters To Santa Reveal The Nice And The Naughty
"Not just for me, but my daddy, brother and granny," the child wrote to Santa. "My daddy works so hard, and then he comes home to cook and clean, and it should be easier."
Carole Slotterback, a psychology professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, analyzed some 1,200 letters like these to Santa for her book "The Psychology of Santa." The letters, she tells the Associated Press, "touched me in so many different ways."
Slotterback collected the letters from ones sent to the central post office in Scranton between 1998 and 2003.
"Some are just absolutely a stitch, and others are some of the saddest things I've ever read," she tells the Associated Press. Between three percent and six percent of the letters included personal requests -- pleas for a sick grandparent or for parents to stop fighting.
She also noticed a conspicuous lack of manners. That surprised her.
"You'd think if you were asking for a lot of presents, you would throw in a 'please' or a 'thank you,'" she says.
One was downright creepy. Santa got a death threat.
"Dear Santa, I am going to kill you and steal the toys from your workshop," the child wrote.
Slotterback reported it to the postmaster. The letter was possibly sent from a juvenile detention facility, she tells the AP. Sweet or scary, children's letters to Santa are often windows into their psyches. As such, parents should read their children's letters, Slotterback says.
There were encouraging signs of the times. In 2001, many letters referred to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Children's letters were patriotic and often decorated with American flags. Now, children are nestled a little snugger in the beds without fears of terrorism dancing through their heads.
"Terrorists can do all kinds of things to our world, and they can hurt us in many ways, but one thing they can't do is touch Santa," Slotterback says. "And that was nice to see."
Related: Kids Explain All Things Santa
Ask Us Anything About Parenting
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.