Letters Before A Texter’s Pov Crossword
Letters Before A Texter’s Pov Crossword – The 200 or so volunteer “elves” at the Santa Claus Museum in Indiana respond to about 20,000 letters each year. Courtesy of the Santa Claus Museum and Village
Writing a letter to Santa Claus has been a tradition in America, well, since at least it was possible to mail a letter, and probably long before that.
Letters Before A Texter’s Pov Crossword
Before the establishment of the United States Post Office in 1775, American children would burn their letters to Santa Claus, in the belief that the ashes would rise and reach him, said Nancy Pope, curator of postal history at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington. , D.C.
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Today, despite the advent of more modern communications such as email and texting, hundreds of thousands of children, from all over the world, continue to send their Christmas wish lists to Santa using old-fashioned snail mail. And amazingly, many of those letters are actually answered.
To deal with the annual flood, the United States Postal Service (USPS)—Santa’s primary ghostwriter (aside from parents)—created Operation Santa in the early 20th century, allowing postmasters to answer the letters. This year, the USPS joined the 21st century, making it possible for kids to mail Santa — at least in New York City.
New York is where Operation Santa started around 1907, but it wasn’t in full swing until 1913. The following year, the postmaster in Santa Claus, Indiana, also began answering letters from children, says Emily Thompson, director of the town’s nonprofit organization. Santa Claus Museum and Village. The Museum answers letters sent to the town, and also those from the surrounding area addressed to Father Christmas or the North Pole.
“Our letter volume has increased over the years,” says Emily Thompson, director of the Santa Claus Museum and Village. Courtesy of the Santa Claus Museum and Village
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Surprisingly, the Internet age has not put a damper on first-class mail being received by the museum. “Our letter volume has increased over the years,” says Thompson.
Santa Claus was first depicted in print in the US in 1810 in an image commissioned by the New York Historical Society, writes Alex Palmer, author of
. During that early 19th-century period, Santa Claus was more of a words-to-live-by-dispenser moralist than a present-day capitalist, he says.
Cartoonist Thomas Nast created an iconic image depicting Santa Claus at his desk, piled high with letters from the parents of naughty and nice children. Palmer says Nast also popularized the idea that Santa Claus lived in the North Pole. In 1879, Nast drew an illustration of a child mailing a letter to Santa Claus.
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Cartoonist Thomas Nast created the iconic image of Santa Claus and in 1879 drew this illustration (colored detail) of a child mailing a letter to Santa Claus. Alamy
The Nast cartoons fired the nation’s imagination, and the Postal Service soon became the vehicle for children’s most fervent Christmas wishes. The Postal Service was not exactly equipped for the job, says Pope. Initially, letters addressed to “Santa Claus” or “The North Pole” would mostly go to the Dead Letter Office (DLO), since “they were written to someone who, ‘spoiler alert,’ doesn’t exist,” says Pope.
The concept of a Dead Letter office—handling letters and packages with illegible or nonexistent addresses, no return addresses or improper postage—has been around since at least the first Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin, Pope says. A handful of such offices were established in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with the main DLO in Washington, DC. A few clerks—almost entirely women by the turn of the 20th century—would sort through the dead letters and burn those that could not be returned.
Packages were more difficult to burn, especially since they were often filled with interesting items—such as skulls, reptiles, even a large box of copper nuggets, Pope says. Washington’s DLO began displaying the oddities in glass cases. Eventually, the USPS transferred those curiosities to the Smithsonian Institution, which added them to its collection. Beneath that, and now in the collections of the National Postal Museum, was a soft silk pouch lined with brocade and emblazoned with “A Christmas Greeting” in the address section. When the bag was opened, a similarly printed “Christmas Wish” appeared.
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“We have no idea who sent it, when, how, why, to whom—all we know is that it didn’t make it,” because it was at the DLO, says Pous.
Unclaimed artifacts, including this silk Christmas greeting, from the US Postal Service’s Dead Letter Office have finally found their way to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. National Postal Museum
Meanwhile, the pile-up of Santa letters each year at the DLO—and subsequent burning—became a source of anxiety. They could not be delivered because they were addressed to the North Pole or to some other non-existent address. In some towns, postmasters answered the letters—which they intercepted locally. “It was illegal for them to open the letters, but no one that I know of has been prosecuted for this,” says Pope.
In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt’s Postmaster General, George Von L. Meyer gave the nation’s postmasters the option of releasing the letters to individuals or charitable institutions to answer. But by 1908, the Postal Service was hit by accusations that letter writers were not properly checked, leading to some perhaps lousy profits. The policy was reversed and Santa letters were again sent to the DLO. In 1911, a new postmaster general gave unofficial permission to local post offices to try their hand at answering Santa letters again.
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By 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock made it official with Operation Santa—if the postage was paid, individuals and charitable groups could answer letters to Santa. Operation Santa gave rise to the Santa Claus Association in New York. This group found volunteers to answer letters and deliver gifts to children. The program was a huge success, but by 1928 the association’s founder, John Gluck, was found to have swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars out of its coffers, Palmer says.
A group of people review letters sent to Santa Claus for the Santa Claus Association at the Hotel Astor in New York City in 1914. Bain News Service, Library of Congress
Over the decades, the Postal Service has taken steps to ensure that both letter writers and the volunteers who buy gifts for children are not involved in criminal or other nefarious activities. Children can reach out to Santa Claus in a number of ways. Parents can take their children’s letters and mail them to an address in Anchorage — which houses a giant mail processing facility designed to handle Santa mail. This guarantees a postmark on the return letter from the North Pole.
Letters with postage and an North Pole or Santa address are usually sent to one of 15 regional post offices participating in Operation Santa. Volunteers living in the vicinity of those 15 locations select a letter to answer (all personally identifiable information is removed) and buy a gift for the child, which they bring to the post office. It is then delivered by the USPS. Thousands of other post offices participate, but postal employees only respond to letters; they don’t send gifts, said USPS spokeswoman Darleen Reid-DeMeo.
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The New York post office receives about 500,000 letters each year. This year, some of the letters were digitized and posted on deliverycheer.com, which allows volunteers to select letters online. Packages still have to be brought in person to the main James A. Farley Post Office on 8th Avenue at Penn Station in Manhattan, Reid-DeMeo says.
“We try our best to get all the letters answered,” she says. “Unfortunately, because we receive so much, it’s just not possible.”
The 200 or so volunteer “elves” at the Santa Claus Museum in Indiana respond to about 20,000 letters each year, some of them mailed and some of them written on site at the nonprofit museum. Parents or other adults can also print out templates of letters from Santa at home.
Thompson says that even though the volume of mail has increased over the last few years, the letter writing tradition may be on the way out. In 2016, in a sign of the times, the museum began instructing volunteers to use only block letters when writing, since most children can no longer read cursive, she says.
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Letters provide an opportunity to tell a story, she says, noting that many children take time to write about their days or their siblings or parents. Handwritten responses are also appreciated by those kids, she says, noting that today’s kids don’t exactly receive a ton of mail.
Some commercial websites promise emails from the North Pole or video calls with Santa—perhaps hastening the demise of the old-fashioned paper response. Handwritten letters from Santa or anyone else “may become an increasingly important and rare thing,” Thompson says.
Pope agrees, noting that letter writing declined in the 1970s and 1980s, and then postcards fell out of fashion. “Now we have a generation that finds e-mail bulky,” says Pope, although she notes that there is little interest among millennial women in a “romantic rebirth of letter writing.”
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