The letters are penned by hand, in neat and careful writing. “Dear Santa,” they begin.
No colorful drawings of elves and reindeer here, no requests for Barbie dolls and Lego sets. The sober messages, stamped and addressed to the North Pole, are written by adults. The senders are asking for work, they’re asking for love, they’re asking for hope.
“Dear Santa,” said one from a Canadian man with two young children. “I just lost my wife to cancer and we’d like you to watch over her in Heaven. Please take care of my two boys.”
Canada Post handles a million letters to Santa from Canadian children each year, and some mail from grownups inevitably sneaks into the sorting stations. The post office employees who read and respond say the messages are coherent, confessional and often heartrending, a reminder that holiday joy doesn’t spread evenly across the land.
“Dear Santa,” began a letter from the mother of a preteen with autism. “Physically my daughter looks the same as every other child but socially she has a difficult time. For Christmas I would like you to bring my daughter tolerance and understanding. Especially I would like you to bring her a new friend to play with – one that will see the fun-loving, good-humored, kind child that she is, and who will look beyond the social gaffes and occasional inappropriate or awkward responses.”