Restoring your faith in humanity, one tiny observation at a time.
By Rose Ernst
Dread and panic were setting in again.
Christmas was going to be “cancelled” in the UK, and yet another lockdown was coming in December 2020.
There had been a moment of hope in November, but that had quickly been washed away, replaced with a grim extended quarantine through the winter.
We were so fortunate to be hunkered down in Porthoustock, Cornwall, where we could at least enjoy the gorgeous scenery on our one allotted walk a day.
Even so, I’d always wanted to experience an English Christmas, even though I knew it was just a childhood fantasy that didn’t really exist.
So when I came across the postbox for letters to Santa in the St Keverne town square, my squeal of delight would have undoubtedly disturbed the locals — had they been out and about.
The label on the red box adorned with tinsel read: “Letters for Santa: Collected by Elf mail. Last collection time Monday to Sunday 11:59 pm. Final collection 24th December at 11:55 pm.”
I chuckled at the precise collection times, and the seriousness of such a delightful and whimsical gesture. And was the padlock to guard the precious missives against marauders? Who would dare?
When I returned to huddle around our cosy — though not quite adequate — fire, I typed “postbox for Santa” into my laptop.
According to the British Postal Museum, until 1963, all letters addressed to Father Christmas or Santa Claus were returned to sender (how depressing) due to legal requirements.
In 1963, Royal Mail changed the policy:
“Mail addressed to Father Christmas c/o Snowland, Toyland, Reindeerland or any other fictional address would be dealt with separately. The Post Office would send a card from Father Christmas inside an envelope with a ‘Reindeerland Postage Paid’ cancellation stamp.”
That year, 8,000 responses were sent out. The handwritten form letters read:
My dear young friend,
How nice of you to write to me. My gallant reindeer are ready and eager to gallop with me through snow and cloud to visit everyone we can. I shall do my best to do as you ask — but I get thousands and thousands of requests, so do forgive me if I make a mistake.
Be good; be fast asleep; and whether you get all you wish for or not, I hope you will have a very happy Christmas.
Whatever you might celebrate at this time of year, I hope some small detail of kindness like this enters your life, bringing a bit of joy amidst all the challenges.
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