Letters to Santa
I am Amy. I am 6 years old from Irvine, California. I and my little brother live with my grandma. She takes care of us and our mommy.
My mommy is sick and does not have a job. I and my brother have behaved good and been good children. My grandma says she will vouch for that.
Santa, I want you to make my mommy healthy and happy. Please make her like she used to be. Also, I want you to give us some warm clothes if that is ok. It’s ok if you do not give me toys. But if you can please bring some for my brother.
Oh Santa, please do not forget us and do stop by our trailer.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!
That was 6 years old Amy writing to Santa. She and her family lives on a small aid provided by the state. The family of 4 lives in an abandoned trailer. Her mother lost her job and is a bonafide alcoholic. Little Amy has diffidence writ large on her face. Hopelessness and despair has percolated deep in to her psyche. But the little kid who had seen better times still hopes beyond hope for the jolly old Saint Nicholas to pay her a visit. Such is the clout of the old Saint Nick or Santa Claus.
Come December, the jolly old fellow dressed in all red with a beard as white as snow peeks out every hoarding, every community event, every school winter program , every department store or every television show. The chill in the air, the christmas tree sitting in the living room, the lit up yards, the carols, the sugar cookies, the wish lists, the colorfully wrapped gifts and the quintessential Santa Claus coming down the chimney makes up for a large share of Christmas memories for most of us. But how did it all start?
The Legend of Santa Claus
Kris Kingle, Sinter Klass, St. Nicholas or the fabled Santa Claus was around in the 4th century in southwestern Turkey. He was the messiah of love and peace and was known for spreading love and cheer among children. After he passed, he was awarded sainthood. Around the same time Pope Julius I established 25th December as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Saint Nicholas’s feast also came to be celebrated on that day and the inadvertent connection of Santa with Christmas was thus established.
The Christmas tradition of children hanging stockings along the mantelpiece atop the fireplace and leaving behind edible goodies for their beloved Santa on Christmas eve started around 1870. Santa would come with his sack and reward them with gifts and goodies as per their wish depending on whether they have been “naughty” or “nice”.
During the same time another Christmas tradition came to the fore. Little children all over the world would write letters to Santa. Children would assure Santa of their impeccable behavior throughout the year and put forward their wish lists to him. The letters were left in their shoes or pinned to the stockings left behind by the mantel piece. The letters would be addressed for Santa’s den at the North Pole. The tradition still lives on.
Operation Santa Claus
It all started 100 years back when the postal service started receiving letters addressed to Santa from children. In the year 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock formed a group of postal employees and ordinary citizens to hand pick the letters and answer them to help sustain the belief in the old man. The program came to be known as “Operation Santa Claus”.
Today post offices all over America and in some other countries in Europe and Canada along with groups of enthusiastic volunteers are coming forward to bring about smiles and cheer in all our homes. These efforts are generally clubbed with a donation program whereby food, toys, clothes etc are collected to be distributed among the under privileged. Monetary donations too are encouraged.
It is an attempt to restore the holiday spirit and cheer in homes that are going through hard times. Charitable organizations, corporate organizations and kind hearted individuals come forward to bring about joy among the less fortunate. These are the true elves and helpers of Santa today.
For some of these children, the wish lists are anything but fancy. It would be heart wrenching for most to see a 6 or a 7 year old ask for may be for a warm coat, medicines or other basic amenities like restoration of turned off heat or electricity. With the economic slowdown in tow, a lot of families have lost their livelihood, facing hardship and are struggling to provide two square meals a day for their children. The holidays have no special significance for them.
“Operation Santa Claus” is a solemn reminder that children are just children and Santa listens to all. It is also an initiative that helps us damask the true “Santa” lurking within each one of us.
Following a cue, a lot of other charities too come forward during the holidays with such novel initiatives to keep alive the holiday cheer.
Some of the other Christmas charities are as follows:
GoodWill : Goodwill Industries International is a nonprofit Organization that is based on a America wide chain of thrift stores and is backed by donations from kind and magnanimous citizens all over. During Christmas time a lot of drives are organized whereby donated stuff is collected and distributed. Look out for the goodwill truck in your neighborhood.
The Salvation Army-Christmas Charity: The Salvation Army is a nonprofit organization that too has a network of thrift stores. During Christmas time, the Salvation army comes ahead with its traditional red kettle for donations. Every year millions of dollars are collected and donated to needy families. Clothes, toys and food are given out as a part of this endeavor.
Operation Christmas Child: This particular charity invites people to take a shoe box, fill it with goodies and wrap it after leaving a personalized note for the needy child inside.
Make a wish foundation: Make a wish foundation collects donations and brings about merchandise in the form of holiday cards and calendars to be sold and the proceeds be forwarded to fulfill wishes of terminally ill children or children with life threatening conditions.
My two front teeth: It chooses children through community programs and allows them to put forward their wish list. It is maintained in their database and donors could come forward and fulfill the wish of one little one. It is a personalized gift giving online charity.
Christmas is round the corner. Do not forget to unveil the real “Santa” in you. Amidst the holiday hoopla do not forget to take a moment and choose the charity you would like to participate in. Involve your kids and let them discover the joys of sharing and caring.You too could initiate something in your community or workplace. Little things go a long way. A bake sale, a lemonade stand too can be the start to a great cause. Remember little drops make an ocean.
A little thoughtfulness on your part can light up the world of a little one somewhere. So don your Santa cap and do not miss the opportunity of being one of his true elves.