NOW that the Christmas season is here, postal workers and volunteers around the world are busy answering letters to Santa. Every year, these widespread efforts encourage children to appreciate the wonder of reading and writing handwritten letters.
Did you know? This year:
- About 30,000 letters to Santa will be answered with a postmark from “Santa Claus, Indiana.” Children should send their letters by December 21 (be sure to include a return address) to “Santa Claus, PO Box 1, Santa Claus, IN 47579”
- Over one million letters in more than thirty different languages will be sent to “Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0, Canada.” Each letter mailed by December 17 (with a return address) will receive a reply!
- Santa Claus’s Main Post Office in Finland receives about 32,000 letters a day around Christmas. Letters from nearly 200 countries have found their way to Santa’s Village in the Arctic Circle:
Santa Claus’ Main Post Office
Santa Claus Village Rovaniemi
FI-96930 Napapiiri, Arctic Circle
- In Germany, eight Christmas post offices in cities such as Himmelsthür (“heaven’s door”) and Himmelpfort (“heaven’s gate”) receive letters to the Christkind (Christ child). Other cities will receive letters addressed to Father Christmas and Saint Nicolaus. More than 600,000 replies are written each year!
This week, set aside time to help your children write their own Christmas letters.
If your family doesn’t encourage letters to Santa, one of the following Christmas traditions might be a better fit:
“Happy Birthday, Jesus!” Cards
Elementary-age children will enjoy decorating and writing special birthday cards for Jesus. To start, give each child a folded piece of green, red, or gold paper. Offer them different supplies to decorate the front:
- Crayons and markers
- Glue sticks and pictures cut from magazines or old Christmas cards
- Stickers and glitter (boys usually steer clear of these, but girls love them!)
- Pipe cleaners and cellophane tape to create tree, cross, or star shapes
When your children write the inside, encourage them to include:
- A reason they’re thankful that Jesus came to earth
- A gift they would like to give Jesus this year (being kind to a sister, spending more time praying, helping a neighbor, etc.)
- A favorite Bible verse
Display the finished cards in your home to remind guests and family members about the true meaning of Christmas.
Family Christmas Cards
In olden days, large families and churches often hung Christmas gifts from the branches of Christmas trees. (Laura Ingalls Wilder recalls such a scene in her novel On the Banks of Plum Creek.)
Today, most of us prefer to keep wrapped packages safely below the decorated boughs. But my family still likes to surprise each other with something else in the tree branches on Christmas morning—handwritten Christmas cards.
Set aside an afternoon when your children can write secret cards or friendly letters for each of their parents and siblings. Make sure they write the recipients’ names on the envelopes. On Christmas Eve, allow them to place these little tokens of love around the tree. Our family liked to open cards on Christmas morning, before the flurry of presents began.
If your kids need ideas for what to write, offer one of these suggestions:
- Write about your favorite Christmas memory with this person.
- Write about something you admire in this person.
- Write about the gifts you would buy for this person if you had a thousand dollars.
- Write about your plans for New Year’s Eve.
- Thank this person for the cookies they have baked, the lights they have hung, or the stories they have read aloud to you this Christmas!
Christmas cards and letters give children a chance to practice their hard-earned writing skills, from brainstorming to final drafts, from salutations to closings, from capital letter formation to paragraph indents. Help them discover that Christmas letters aren’t just an activity for moms this joyful time of year!
Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella also blogs at www.waterlilywriter.com.
Photo: Zechariah Judy, courtesy of Creative Commons