“Dear Santa, May I please have a millions toys? Love Erick,” reads another young Hoboken resident.
“Dear Santa, How have you been? I hope all is well in the North Pole. How are all your reindeer?…Please be sure to give more to the kids in need. Merry Christmas, Madeline.” wrote one girl.
And another wrote, “Dear, Santa I’ve been a good girl and I really want a video from you. I hope you give me lots of presents…Santa can you draw me a picture of you and me in the North Pole and put the pict on one of my presents! Love Molly.”
“Dear Santa and Mrs. Claus, this is in an order of what I want most to least but I want all. Please get stuff from the top. P.S. I will be in Canada,” wrote another young child.
Children have until Thursday, Dec. 21 to send their letters to Santa Claus in care of the Hoboken postal service, according to supervisor Brad Johnson. In fact, the main post office at 89 River St. has a special red mailbox dedicated to children’s letters to St. Nick.
“We put the box out on Dec. 1 this year,” said Johnson, who has been in charge of the letters to Santa since 2001.”It’s a great way to start off the Christmas season.”
Even though the box had only been out for six days, Johnson said they already received about 20 letters to Santa, and there will likely be hundreds more before the Dec. 21 deadline.
Some of the letters include hand-drawn Santas or self portraits of children with Santa. One envelope was decorated with stickers.
Johnson said over the years children have asked for everything from iPads and laptops to Hatchimals, and as well as jackets and presents for family members. The nature of some of the letters has changed.
“We haven’t gotten any sad letters in a while,” said Johnson. “The Hoboken population has changed. We used to every now and then get a letter from a kid saying they can’t afford any new toys this year.”
He said it was rare that they got a letter like that, and volunteers ended up donating to the family when they did.
This year, Hatchimals are still a popular request, as are laptops, Hot Wheels tracks, a Smooshin Surprise Maker Kit, and Xboxes.
Hatchimals are egg-shaped toys a child takes care of until the toy inside hatches itself. Smooshin Surprise Maker Kit allows children to create their own Smooshin characters by squeezing a color pouch into a mold and a character grows inside.
One child asked for an ornament after his sister broke his ornament.
“Now Santa I want something for my gift now what happened is my sister axidently broke my 1st grade ornament it had my hand printed on it and I decorated it with different kinds of Sharpies…I hope I have wight paint, 12 Sharpies and my own ornament made out of glass. There is one more thing I want to tell you can you tell me what is your elfs names one of them I have in my class his name is Elfy is there any more that you have please tell me and reply back on Christmas Eve,” he wrote. He ended the letter, written on green construction paper, with, “I try to listen to my mom and dad but I will keep trying to improve more and more love your best friend.”
Johnson said he loves to see the children writing letters and addressing them correctly.
“I love when the kids write the letters themselves, because it means they are learning how to properly write a letter,” said Johnson. “That’s something that not even all adults can do correctly.”
Tradition dating to 1912
Johnson said he and other volunteers from the post office carefully keep all the children’s letters with their addressed envelopes, so they can respond in some way. The post office sends a letter back to each child in red Sharpie signed by Santa. The letter states, “I wanted to write you a letter to wish you a Merry Christmas. I understand you’ve been good this year and are looking forward to Christmas. The elves and I have been working very hard making presents for you and all other boys and girls on my list. Rudolph has his red nose all shined up and ready to lead the other reindeer to your home on Christmas Eve!”
The letter goes on to encourage children to go to bed early, and leave a snack.
Nationwide, the United States Postal Service has been accepting and responding to letters to Santa since at least 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock launched the annual Operation Santa program.
Johnson said the Letters to Santa program is at no cost to the post office as everyone volunteers his or her time.
Johnson said the post office also gets a few letters to Santa from out of town, which they do their best to respond to.
“We have people who might be visiting for the holidays, doing a bit of Christmas shopping, or just on their way into the city who drop a letter in to Santa,” said Johnson. “As long as there is a return address, we will make sure they get a letter from Santa.”
Johnson said that after the letters are responded to, the letters are shredded so no personal information on the children is kept.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at email@example.com.