The Art of Writing Santa Letters

Filed under: Holidays, Toys, Amazing Kids, Cabin Fever


'Tis the season when Cabin Fever begins receiving frantic phone calls from grandparents. "What do the kids want for gifts this year?" In fact, the unspoken question is: "What gifts do you want us to get the kids this year?" Or more specifically, "What gifts DON'T you want us to get the kids?"

Accompanied by a silent scream of grandparent angst.

Yes, 'tis the season when our low-maintenance lifestyle begins to look rather high-maintenance.

Grandmas and grandpas of the world, I hear you. We parents can be hard to please. Much harder than our children, truth be told. My own offspring would love nothing more than to rip open a giant, battery-operated, instantly breakable, flashing, noisy, plush, pointy neon toy, imprisoned in yet more disposable plastic packaging. Throw in the descriptives: Blaster, Rocket, and/or Life-Sized Pony, and you've got a pile of salivating kids.

My heart sinks at the thought. Because all I want for Christmas is less. Less waste, less packaging, less fodder for an attic already crammed with the half-broken, battery-less Blaster Rocket Ponies of Christmases past.

You can see the dilemma. All a grandparent really wishes is to present the beloved child with the Perfect Present. And, really, the parent wishes the same. With the tiny addendum of "just so long as the Perfect Present meets our standard requirements, see tables B and C, and refer to chart A at the rear of this simple present-giving manual."

If only there were such a thing.

Instead, Cabin Fever presents the Santa Letter.
In the Santa Letter, a child puts pen to paper and dreams big.

"Could you build a mini-school and put it in our backyard (p.s. I asked permission)."
"I want a puzzle with a horse and a unicorn and an orphan to ride on the horse and the unicorn."
"I would like a Star Wars Lego ship called the Republican Attack Gunship."
"And a dog."

This is the magic of the Santa Letter. It is heartfelt fantasy. It reflects the personality, themes, and wishes that at this moment in time sum up an individual child. And a little bit of dreaming and creativity can inspire a whole lot more.

Make copies for further reference.

Letters may be mailed to Santa, envelope addressed as follows: Santa Claus, The North Pole, Canada, H0H 0H0. Thanks to the elves at Canada Post, Santa will write back. (Be warned: Santa types and appears to use a photocopier).

Now, here's the catch. For the Santa Letter to work, the child must grasp the concept, too: Santa is a happy fiction. Fantasy does not equal reality. Not everything on the list will materialize under the tree, as requested -- in fact, none of it may. Santa gets substantial leeway. He doesn't have a lot of room in his sleigh. He can't tuck a real live pony under the tree, but he just might give a child a trail ride instead, or a book about ponies, or a subscription to a horse magazine. Santa is a great improviser.

And when the need arises, Santa subcontracts wishes out, say, to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and doting family friends. (This is where the extra copies come in handy). We hard-to-please parents might just find that given the opportunity, and inspired by a child's excitement, these elves rise to the occasion and respond to the Santa Letter with creativity and love.

What could be more perfect than that?

Waste-Reducing Tips: For parents who really can't bear another Rocket Blaster Pony, consider starting a family collection of a high-quality brand like Lego or Playmobil, durable toys that encourage imaginative play, appeal to a wide variety of ages, and offer selections suitable for most every taste and budget.

And gifts that require no packaging whatsoever include: a trip to the zoo, a trail ride on a pony, tickets to the ballet or the movies, special one-on-one outings, and fees for favourite extra-curricular sports or lessons.

Related: Expect Santa To Write from Newark, Not The North Pole, Macy's Sends Santa On A Tour... And More

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.