A guest post by Emily Thompson, former Executive Director of the Santa Claus Museum & Village.
“Dear Santa Claus, Indiana,
Does Santa Claus live in Santa Claus, Indiana? Does your town celebrate Christmas every day? How in the world did you come up with the name Santa Claus, Indiana?” – Megan, November 2004
Santa Claus, Indiana, is a town rooted in tradition and history. It was settled in the 1800s and received its unique name in 1856. For 150 years, the town of Santa Claus has been celebrating Christmas, all year round. And part of this celebration includes the observance of a long and hallowed tradition; helping Santa Claus answer the tens of thousands of letters that arrive each holiday season.
Santa’s Elves have been assisting the jolly ole’ elf for over 100 years. Today, the Elves are a dedicated group of volunteers who spend countless hours responding to each and every letter Santa receives. Friends, neighbors, local businesses, community groups, high school students, and even visitors make up the ranks of the Elves. And they need all the Elf help they can get; in 2018 alone, the Elves answered over 22,000 letters from children all over the world.
These missives hold the hopes and wishes of children and adults and are often funny, sweet, or even sad. Each year, the Elves set aside their favorite letters and those letters are archived at the Santa Claus Museum & Village. Visitors to the site can page through decades of Christmas letters, some of which date back to the 1930s. But this year, the Elves have been able to share their favorite letters with a wider audience thanks to a new book, Letters to Santa Claus.
The Elves dug through the archives and included letters that haven’t been seen in eighty years. The book contains over 250 actual letters and envelopes from the naughty and the nice. It is full of wish lists, salutations, and questions. Some children wonder how Santa gets into their chimneyless homes. Others confess their guilt or misdeeds in hopes Santa will forgive them before Christmas. One child reminds Santa that she has not hit her brothers over 1,350 times that year, and another respectfully requests two million dollars in “cold cash.”
Santa’s Elves launched their book on Saturday, December 5, 2015, at 10:00 am CT at the Santa Claus Museum & Village. The books are the perfect Christmas gift. They are available for purchase locally at the Santa Claus Museum, and at other major booksellers and online at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. The Santa Claus Museum & Village will reopen for the season in May 2019.
Serving as Santa’s helpers is a privilege that all of the Elves hold near and dear to their hearts. There is a magical quality about the work they do, a perpetuation and reinforcement of belief that is often so difficult to find during the busy holiday season. The Elves are excited to share a little of that magic. Letters to Santa Claus is a truly special gift, from all of the Elves in Santa Claus, Indiana, to you.
This blog post has been updated from December 2015.