The original letter
Dec 7th 2015
Dear Father Christmas,
It’s been a while since I last wrote to you. Close to 30 years, in fact. How are you holding up?
I can barely remember the content of the letters I sent to you as a fuzzy-haired child, but it’s safe to assume they were filled with promises of good behaviour, enquiries about Rudolph and your good wife, and rambling lists of the countless toys that I would soon rip ferociously from their packaging, throw at walls and siblings for a day, and in most cases never return to.
Now, as a fuzzy-haired adult with fuzzy-haired children of my own, I write to you with a different kind of request. One which hopefully won’t seem too rude.
Father Christmas — I want your letters.
Bear with me. Remember my childhood ambition to become an architect? Well, for many reasons, but mainly a profound laziness that affects me to this day, that didn’t go to plan. Instead, I find myself with a wonderful job that was unimaginable to me back then, and which many find hard to believe in 2015: I spend my days searching for, reading, and then compiling books of “letters of note”, to illustrate that the dying art of letter writing is worth breathing life into. To remind as many people as possible that with letters, we are never truly alone. To highlight special moments in history that would be forever lost were it not for our letters. To show that it really is worth the extra effort; that the very act of putting pen to paper, of taking things a little slower, can bring out the best in us and strengthen bonds.
Of course, I realise that I’m preaching to the converted right now, because if anyone understands the power of written correspondence, it’s Father Christmas. For without the letters we send to you, how on earth would you know which gifts to prepare? Do you even have an email address? You must have written and received more letters than anyone, and you are single-handedly inspiring children to write at least one letter each year — no easy task in these digital days. All of which brings me back to my reason for writing…
I would dearly love to compile a volume of notable letters plucked from your archive up there in the North Pole. A collection like no other. I can only imagine the emotions running through that postbag each year, the variety of stories you must be told, the connections you must make. We could include letters from children and the replies you somehow find time to write; a couple of your favourite job application letters from aspiring elves, and your tactful rejections; a few angry letters of complaint from eternally ungrateful kids; and maybe even some of the romantic letters between you and Mother Christmas that I’ve been told of by a helper who shall forever remain nameless. The obvious title for such a book would be SELECTED LETTERS OF FATHER CHRISTMAS, or perhaps DEAR SANTA. But for personal reasons I would suggest LETTERS OF NOEL.
Please let me know as soon as possible. I imagine that with a team of 100 researchers working 12 hour days, 7 days a week, I could sift through your archive in about 20 years. All being well — remember, we’re not all immortal — we could publish by the time I’m 60.
Give my love to everyone.
Shaun Usher, age 37