It’s a holiday tale that seems almost like a made-for-Christmas Hallmark movie. But it’s true, perhaps something that could only happen at this magical time of year.
When Sarah Saucedo visited her local Hallmark store in Indianapolis, she picked up an eye-catching new book titled “Letters to Santa Claus.” New from Indiana University Press, the book tells the story of an annual project of love and includes some of the most poignant, hilarious and unusual letters from around the world that have found their way to the Hoosier town of Santa Claus.
“Letters to Santa Claus” contains a foreword by “Head Elf” Pat Koch and an afterword by Emily Weisner Thompson, executive director of the Santa Claus Museum & Village. Among the more than 250 actual letters in the book, one child hopes to make his life better with a time machine; another from the 1930s notes that brother Jimmie “ain’t so good so you could leave him out;” one worries about Santa being cold at the North Pole – “Does the wind blow through your whiskers?”
Organized by decades beginning with the 1930s and continuing through the 2010s, the letters show that many things have changed over the years. And many have remained the same. Letter writers ask for the safe return of loved family members and world peace, for basics such as warm underwear and boots, for treats like candy and nuts, and for gifts for others.
Sarah was immediately drawn to the letters spanning more than eight decades, letters from around the world that were addressed to old St. Nick and ended up in Santa Claus, Indiana. There, the letters were read, answered and filed away.
“I only looked at a couple pages and was getting ready to put it down when I flipped to one more,” she says. “I thought I was losing my mind for a minute.”
Before her surprised eyes was a letter an 8-year-old Sarah had written in those long ago 1980s. “I was looking at my own childhood handwriting. I can’t even describe the confusion/amazement/ bewilderment I felt,” she says. “There was just no way.”
She later discovered, Sarah says, that her letter “was chosen from millions of letters sent from all over the world over the years. Unbelievable.”
In her childish handwriting painstakingly penciled on lined paper, Sarah asked Santa for a Baby Alive doll. She also told Santa that “the boys in my class sed that their was no Santa Claus. My mom sed that thay will (be) disappointed when thay don’t get anything … I believe in you.”
The letter was like a gift from the past. “I remember where we lived when I got that doll and that year was a tough one,” Sarah says. “My parents had just separated and we moved to an apartment in Indianapolis from our big farmhouse in a very small farming town.”
For a Hoosier country girl, the change was devastating. “The kids were brutal, I was totally out of my element, I missed my Dad and it was just a rough year overall. My childhood after that had some wonderful times but a lot of hard times.”
Sarah grew up, married and now has her own family. They now live on the north side of Indianapolis. She also is the creator of a popular blog “Thrifty Décor Chick” that she started in May of 2008 to share her house projects with family and friends. She wrote about the Hallmark moment on her blog.
As for that old letter, Sarah admits that she quickly bought the book and considers it a special and surprising memento from her childhood. “I only have one small box of memories and some photos – everything else was lost,” she says. “So as you can imagine, I can’t stop smiling about having this part of my history … What a beautiful gift to get a piece of my childhood in such a lovely and unexpected way.”