My daughter is pen pals with Santa. Not just at Christmas time, but throughout the year. I can’t remember when it was we intercepted her first letter, but I do remember opening the mailbox and finding her envelope to him sprinkled with hearts and stickers. There was no stamp, only the simple line, “To Santa North Pole.”
I took her letter inside and opened it. My husband and I read, in her girlish misspelled script, a lovely letter thanking him for all he does and asking if they could be friends. I wasn’t sure what to do with her note, but my husband knew. He typed her up a delightful response. About a week later, she received the letter in the mail. Her reaction to receiving an answer was a matter of fact excitement. Santa is real. He loves children. Of course, he would respond. And so commenced their pen-pal relationship.
I don’t know why her latest message has touched my heart to the degree that I felt compelled to write about it. This year I have had the desire, more so than other years, to downsize our Christmas in the gift arena. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love giving gifts to the people I love and seeing the smile it brings to their faces. The knowledge that I carefully sought out a gift that I knew, or hoped, would be unique and special just for them, gave me joy, a symbol, however small, of my love.
The Christ child, from what we read in scripture, did not receive many gifts, but they were precious and rare and fitting for Him. Jesus Christ, his birth, and life and ultimate sacrifice are what I try to center my life, my family’s life, on. My goal, to try to be like Him in whatever infinitesimal amount my human self can manage.
Of course, I fail. I take it day by day, and I try to teach that to my children. That love and kindness are what matters most. Even so, the busyness of the world and day to day obligations can distract from that goal. I guess that in reading her letter, it refocused my sights to where they needed to be at just the right time.
There is a company we like to use called PNP. From the time our children were 2 or 3, they have been receiving personalized videos and letters from Santa. To my children’s eyes, it is proof that he is making a list and checking it twice, that he sees them when they’re sleeping and whether they have been naughty or nice. The videos and letters call them by name and reference events in their life. These simple things make their eyes light up and a smile to appear that spreads from ear to ear. My heart melts and overflows with their joy.
The letter my daughter received this year told the story of the candy cane. It reminded her that the shape of the candy cane is like that of a shepherd’s staff, but when turned upside down, it forms the letter J for Jesus. It said the white stripes represented Christ’s purity and that the red ones represented the blood He shed for all of us.
When her letter finally came, her excitement was contagious. Bouncing and giggling, she shouted for us to come and share in reading, to her, what was a treasure. Later, without my knowledge, she quietly made time to respond to the letter from her friend. I caught her heading out the door on a Sunday morning to put her message in the mailbox. When she showed me what she had in her hand, I convinced her to wait until Monday to post it. I needed a chance to read it first. To understand a little better, we have an Elf on the Shelf, visit us every year. Our Elf has a pet snail named Hermy that lives with us year-round.
Thank you for reminding me of what Christmas is all about. I love Jesus’ story for being born and when it talks about the candy canes. Thank you for writing to me. Oh, don’t worry, Hermy is nice and safe. I even made him a bed. He really keeps us company. I got the letter right on time too. I got it right when my Aunt came. And we got a new kitten! A calico kitten, we named her Cali. She is only two months old. And when the Elf comes can he hide in the small Christmas tree? It is my very own!
Sariah Ulshafer I love you Santa and say hi to Mrs. Claus! For me!
Gratitude, love, innocence, belief, joy! Thank you, Sariah, for reminding me of what makes Christmas so magical.