Updated: January 16, 2014 6:12AM
They still believe.
Despite coming from impoverished backgrounds where they know life is anything but easy, and though they often already have known disappointment despite their young ages, they are true believers.
The children who write to Santa Claus in our Season of Sharing campaign are such believers in the magic of Christmas and the ability of that guy from the North Pole to give when they ask. They believe that by doing their chores and homework, it just might be possible that Santa will bring them something they want and need.
Their drawings are priceless, their words so heartfelt.
We hear that today’s kids are selfish, but that doesn’t show up here. They ask for presents for their siblings, a sweater for the family dog. Ulisses wants a book for himself, but as long as he has Santa’s ear, he’ll put in a plug for his baby brother (teddy bear).
And maybe, like other kids, they’d like the latest toy being hawked on TV, or always have wanted a certain doll. But they know that if someone is listening and they just might receive, they better ask for what they need. Karen asks for boots, Daniel put in a request for a red sweater. Michael sure could use a hat and gloves. Such simple gifts, but oh the warmth they’d provide on the walk to school on cold Chicago winter days.
It’s obvious they spend a lot of time decorating their letters. This Santa Claus guy is important. They want to show off their best work. There’s a real effort to stay within the lines, to make sure if they draw the big guy himself that his beard is just so.
And Santa himself, well, they are just plum crazy about him. In letter after letter they tell Santa how much they love him and wish him well.
They worry about him and the temperatures in the frigid North Pole. “I bet you’re freezing,” Carlos laments. If they’re being taught it’s important to eat well, they want Santa to do the same. Andy promises to leave Santa milk, cookies AND some carrots.
Every year someone in the newsroom is the editorial coordinator of the Season of Sharing program. This year it’s me. I’ll be honest; when first “asked,” I wasn’t thrilled. I’ve got a pretty full plate here. But then I read the letters. And heard about the donors. Discovered people start calling in the early fall, wanting to know if the letters are available; that’s how much they don’t want to miss fulfilling a child’s dream. They get involved one year and then they’re hooked. Donors may move out of state, but they still call and give — as the woman who called last week does, making sure her gift had arrived. Other donors send along an extra gift, “just in case” there’s another child who needs a gift. Entire companies give to whole schools and then throw a party for the kids.
All this generosity, all these open hearts. They’ve made a believer out of me, too.
There’s not much time left (school’s out Friday); if you want to bring some joy into a child’s life — and yours, too — ask for a letter now.