December 22, 2006
Dear Santa,
I’ve been a good boy this year. I really have. So I’m hoping you can bring me this present — maybe even a day or two early.
I want a Christmas story idea. To be honest, I want lots of them. But if you can bring me just one, I’ll be the happiest boy in town.
Thanks, Santa.
Edwin Itor
Dear Ed,
You have been a good boy this year! Your coverage of the city council scandal was fair and balanced — and a fun read. Keep up the good work, young man.
So, here is your Christmas wish Ed. The elves love requests like this one. It’s not that they’re lazy, they just do love when someone makes their jobs a little easier.
This one is from Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. It’s called “All I want for Christmas.” And, oh, how simply wonderful it is.
Check it out here.
As you probably know, I get thousands of letters like these — and the one you sent — every Christmas. Answering them all is a real bear. So the United States Postal Service helps me out.
Lane discovered this while working on another story earlier this week. This is the first year, she reported, that the USPS didn’t hire temps to help sort the holiday mail — robots are taking over. Fortunately, letters to me are still scanned by real people, because robots, it turns out, can’t read children’s handwriting.
And every year, Lane told me, those wonderful real people gather at a holiday party to answer some of my letters for me. They pass around the Christmas messages, lists that children have poured their beautiful little hearts into. They read them. And they write replies.
Initially, Lane said, she was asked to describe this scene — the holiday Santa letter party. But, alas, she told her editor, she would be out of town that evening. No scene, but a story, nonetheless. And I think that worked out just fine.
“I wish I could take credit for the idea, but it just kind of evolved,” Lane said. “You just have to let the form of the storytelling reveal itself.”
Lane has two boys of her own. The eight-year-old sent me a letter earlier this month. But the 10-year-old, like many his age, did not. To him, I’ve become a fantasy, a happy lie parents tell their children at Christmastime, a myth.
This story idea, though, is my sign to you, Ed, that I am real. And I’m confident you can use this one. Call the USPS to find out which local hub my letters are sent to, and ask them to send a stack over to you.
Merry Christmas!
And a Happy New Year,
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I'm a freelance journalist whose writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines, including The St. Petersburg Times and The New York Times Magazine.I also produce…

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