Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Santa's Ghost Writer

The company I work for did a recent fundraiser for our Gulf employees who were affected by the hurricanes this year. Through a series of activities and the generosity of our employees, we were able to raise over $13K. One of the activities was writing letters to employee's children from Santa Claus. The idea was to start with a form letter, and customize it with information the parent's provided about their kid's wish list, their major accomplishments for the year, their pet's names, etc. (My favorite pet name by far was "Hank the Cowdog".)

I was an education major, and my minor was English, so of course I immediately had to edit the crappy form letters we found on-line. My latent writing talent was discovered, and I was volunteered to personalize all 75 letters from Santa.

Some of the letters were really hard to write. Parents of children living in the Gulf Coast region saw the letters as opportunities to encourage their children after a very hard year. Some of the children were still displaced from their homes, or separated from their families. One little boy who had been sent to Florida to temporarily live with relatives wanted to be sure that Santa would be able to find him and his little brother, who was still in Louisiana. Another mom wanted Santa to let her displaced son know that he'd be home again with his family real soon. (But not before Christmas.)

Other letters were very light-hearted, and customized for the reader. I've been getting a lot of phone calls from people expressing their gratitude. Makes me feel good. And a little farclempt.

Here are a few excerpts for your amusement.

For the 2-Month Old

Happy First Christmas, Little One!

Mrs. Santa tells me that are sleeping well at night and you cry when you are wet. Santa is very proud of you! The elves tell me you are very special to your family. It is so nice to have people in your life who love you, like your Nanna and Pappy and your big brother B.

For the Cat:

It has been snowing here in the North Pole. The reindeer love the snow! Do you like to watch the snow outside your window? I bet you pat at the glass as the flakes fall past your nose.

Mrs. Claus reminded me that you have done a very good job guarding the house this year, and that you deserve a reward for your grade-A napping skills, and your beautiful paintings. I've heard that you would like to see a new dress under your tree on Christmas morning. Our elf seamstresses will do their best to make that happen.

Meow, meow, meow!

[Santa's ghost writer, also a cat owner, heard that cats could paint, but had no idea they would agree to wear dresses.]

For the Passive Aggressive Parent

I'm proud that you've been a good girl in school, doing good work and listening to Ms. M and all the other teachers. But I think you should try harder to listen and work together with your Mom and Dad. Sometimes I see you do listen, but other times, I see your Mom & Dad have to ask you to do things two or three times. That's not being a good listener, P.

F0r the Green Day Lover

I've been told that you're hoping to find a Matrix game, a King Kong game, and a Green Day video when you wake up on Christmas morning. We'll do our very best! Santa and Billy Joe Armstrong go way back.

For the Football Player

I hear you are playing football for the first time. Santa was a fullback in his days at North Pole U. Go Flying Reindeer!

For the 30-Something "Little Girl"

By the way, I'm running into a little problem with your wish list, T. I'm really not sure how I'm going to get George Clooney stuffed into my satchel, let alone George Clooney plus a back massage. And George Clooney plus the million dollar lottery is a Christmas miracle that ain't gonna happen, I'm afraid. (Although maybe if you can get Kevin McClatchy to throw Santa some Pirates tickets, he'll see what he can do.)

A P.S. From Rudolph

Rudolph wants to know if Macy and Molly want to join the reindeer for a quick game of tag in your front yard. He'll call them later with the details.

Getting Silly in a P.S. After Letter #70

Can you and your sister C remember to put some carrots out for my hungry antlered helpers? The folks at Eat 'N Park look at you funny when you walk in in a red suit and order take-out for nine tiny reindeer.

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