My Mother’s Letter to Santa Claus ~ dated December 12, 1931…
I noticed something this past weekend. Everywhere I looked, Christmas decorations had appeared. Twinkling lights began swirling around our cities and towns and neighborhoods. Christmas music enveloping the air. And stores and parking lots bustling with “merry.”
Yes, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
It is a treasured time of year.
It’s a time of finding perfect little treasures for the people we love.
Treasures. Treasures in all shapes and sizes.
There is one priceless Christmas treasure in my home that is beyond measure. It is my Mom’s handwritten envelope and letter to Santa Claus, dated December 12, 1931. Each time I read this letter, I see my Mom as a 6-year old girl and I marvel at her innocence, the magic of her words and her BELIEF captured in every detail, in her very own penmanship, erasure marks and all…
Yes, I do have this letter that my Mom wrote to Santa 84 years ago… and the story of how I came to have this letter is as treasured as the letter itself.
My Mom, Rita, was born and grew up in Brighton, Massachusetts. Rita was the second child and oldest daughter of Edward and Mary Burke. Edward and Mary would go on to have more children, 7 children – 2 boys and 5 girls in total – but in December of 1931, Rita was the adored 6-year old daughter of my grandfather. Edward was a fireman in the city of Brighton. My mom remembers her Dad wearing his uniform. She remembers him coming home from fighting fires. She remembers his pride in his profession. But safety was different in those days, and my grandfather succumbed to lung cancer after a long battle, in 1943. My mom was 18 years old.
This is where the Letter to Santa comes in. When my Nana was given the contents of her husband’s locker at the Brighton Fire Station, there was a letter among the other items. This letter was addressed to Santa Claus, written by his little girl, Rita, dated December 12, 1931. In that letter, a little girl asks for what little girls today may very well ask for…
49 Saybrook St
December 12 1931
I would like you to bring a doll with long curls, a bath robe and slippers raincoat and hat and a set of aluminum dishes.
a good girl
(Well, a little girl today may not ask for aluminum dishes!)
My grandfather had kept that letter. I can picture him reading and re-reading that letter again and again. Unfolding it and re-folding it so carefully, storing this treasure so carefully, too. From what I have heard of my grandfather, I can imagine that he worked as hard as he could to make his little girl’s wishes to Santa come true.
My Mom found this letter among her mother’s possessions when my Nana died in 1982; I found this letter among some of my Mom’s things during a move she made many, many years ago.
In 2002, I rediscovered this letter in my most special box of things. I had the letter and the envelope framed; and I bought each of the items for my Mom (even the aluminum dishes, which were not easy to find!). It is the best gift Christmas gift I have ever given to anyone. Ever. And I’m willing to bet it’s the best gift my Mom ever received.
My Mom told me that her greatest Christmas wish is that I keep the framed letter and envelope in my home… as a constant reminder that wishes to Santa do come true, even if it’s decades later. My Mom wished me to keep her letter to Santa Claus as a gift of the love her Dad had for her.
Now, I read and re-read Rita’s letter with my own 11 grandchildren, just as I picture my grandfather doing at the Brighton Fire Station so long ago. For me, the letter is a reminder of the greatest love; a love of a Daddy for his daughter. A love that truly has no end. I have proof. My Mom still loves to read her letter to Santa Claus, almost as if no time has passed.
My grandchildren will always know the true meaning of “Dear Santa” through the heart and hand of their Great-Grandma Rita and the heart of their Great-Great-Grandfather Edward, who saved this precious treasure of a hand-written letter.
I do believe that the past often brings a magical presence to the present. I know this is true because I see the magic in the eyes of my grandchildren each time they read Great-Grandma Rita’s letter to Santa Claus. I see the magic in my Mom’s eyes, too, and she is a very grown-up 90-year old lady!
They know the real, perfect little treasures of family, of love, of Christmas…