Sunday, December 6, 2015

Letters to Santa Claus by "The Elves"

For years, letters addressed to Santa Claus have been shipped to Santa Claus, Ind., where a staff of dedicated town volunteers, "elves," process and answer over 400,000 pieces of mail every December.

The book gathers more than 250 scanned letters and documents from the 1930s to the present. Material wish lists reflect the times--from Shirley Temple dolls to Apple gift cards--and the letters are telling and confessional. A "good little bad boy" admits he's been a "real louse," pouring Tabasco instead of chocolate syrup on his brother's ice cream.  A humble little girl only wants "some shoes...with heels" for her depressed single mother.  Another asks for a time machine to "fix all the bad things that have happened to me." A 6 year-old wants Santa to bring his ex-con father a job. A dog, abandoned by housemates, wants his favorite treats. A Braille letter from a blind, Filipino girl asks for a radio.  There are others boldly seeking mates, money, lingerie and legal aid.

Some lists are long and typed, others short: "I want my dad to be smarter" (102); "Can my mom come home from the hospital?" Questions about reindeer, chimneys and coal abound, as do apologies and vows toward better behavior. Some dangle prospects of Christmas Eve sweet treats to entice Santa—one promises beer and a liverwurst sandwich.  This well-presented, historical collection--reflecting both the naughty and nice--will entertain and offer insights into the human condition. And it's even been reported that a reader spotted her own letter to Santa in mix! Might yours be included?

Indiana University Press, 20.00 Hardcover, 9780253017932, 224 pp
Publication Date: October 5, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (10/27/15), link HERE