Santa letters were as much a gift for us as for yourselves

Published 9:58 am Saturday, December 21, 2013

Earlier this month I began processing letters from children to Santa Claus, and was actually glad for it. After having first separated the handwritten from the typed ones the night before, I came in on a Saturday morning and got to work.

Within minutes the charm, innocence and unintended hilarity were evident.

I didn’t think twice about how much the children were asking of Santa. After all, I was once one of those youngsters with a list each year as long as my arm.

But the sophistication level did surprise me: XBox, Playstations, tablets (obviously not the kind that require chalk or pencils), flat-screen televisions, iPads and iPods were on many, many lists. And then there’s the little girl who asked for a purse designed by Michael Kors. I ask you, how does she know about such a thing?

One child mentioned that the Walter White chemistry set she got last year gave her the blues. We in the newsroom certainly got several laughs from that line. I pray that a parent wrote that to be clever. You’ll have to research the television program “Breaking Bad” to figure out the humor.

Oh, and the toys these kids requested. Most I had never heard about before, such as a Doc McStuffins or Lalaloopsy. These and many others I had to research online in order to interpret some of the writing.

As you might have already read in Friday’s publication, the children would often turn to asking Santa to be sure and remember their siblings, parents, pets, friends and other relatives. My favorite is the child who wrote, “Grandaddy tries to be good, so just cut him some slack.” That makes me laugh just to type that sentence again. Let’s hope Santa’s especially forgiving for that poor man.

Then there are the animals that wrote in for such special birdseed, bones or cat toys. I knew critters were smart, but how did they make their requests public? I guess they know the right people.

While I was processing the handwritten ones, I tried to recall toys that I was given by Santa Claus in years gone by. Yet, there were few that actually came to mind. I have to look at holiday photos to jog my memory. Colorful and melodic toddler-size toys are vaguely remembered. Why I got a drum set and what later became of it remain a mystery.

Speaking of memories, I am asking the farming community to send me their own about Christmas while growing up on a farm. Specifically, please tell me about traditions you had in your childhood, or what did you want most from Santa Claus and did you get it? If you have a photo that you can either drop by on Monday or, better still, email, please do so by Monday. My email address is:

I know this is a last-minute request, but whatever I get will be published in the Christmas edition.

Finally, I hope that your memories of this season are ones that you’ll treasure in years to come.

STEPHEN H. COWLES is the staff writer at The Tidewater News. He thanks Santa for the early Christmas present of the new car. Stephen can be contacted at stephen.cowles@tidewaternews or 562-3187.