Pasco mail carrier fields, replies to 'Dear Santa' letters

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldDecember 23, 2012 

Each one is unique, like the boy or girl who wrote it.

Some are scrawled in neat print, with perfect grammar. Others are in shakier script with more creative spelling, like one that starts out, "Deer Santa ... ."

They're all addressed to the big guy in red -- the one with the white beard, the twinkle in his eye and the belly that shakes like bowl fully of jelly.

And they all wound up in the care of one of his most special helpers: Lori Cramer of Pasco, who spends hours each year helping Santa with his mail.

Cramer, 28, is a mail carrier. This time of year, she spends her off hours answering the letters to Santa that come through the Pasco post office.

Mr. Claus reads them first, of course, Cramer said. Then the 28-year-old and some fellow elves, including her husband, mom and sister, send replies on his behalf.

The crew has handled about 300 letters this year. The majority came from local kids, although letters from as far as Connecticut and Florida ended up in their pile.

Most were addressed simply to "Santa, North Pole." One little boy, Harrison of Kennewick, added the "big iceberg at north side of earth" just to be sure.

His letter included a detailed wish list: good books (his favorite kind are action/adventure and fantasy), Lego (they have a lot already, so just a few will do) and a notebook (because good authors write everything down).

He also added a plea for candy and a warning to Santa: "Our house does not have a chimmney (sic), please enter through the sadly unoiled front door."

Others were similarly funny and sweet.

One child asked for video games, a sword, a voice warper, a new bedtime at 9:30 and banana cream pie.

A little girl, Brynn, typed her letter -- or got some help typing -- using numbers and bullet points. She asked for an American Girl doll, among other toys. At the bottom was a message for Santa: Merry Christmas.

Some children wrote of their love for St. Nick.

Many asked for electronics. One girl asked for an iPod Touch, but also underwear and T-shirts. "I don't want my dad to go to jail, because I love him and my families," she wrote, adding that her mom doesn't have much money.

"I do believe in you," she wrote. "I hope I'm in the nice list."

Cramer's daughter, Sara, 11, helps her mom answer letters from other kids. At times, the clueless grownup elves turn to her to explain an unfamiliar toy on a child's list.

"I like helping," Sara said. "I like seeing all the pictures."

Santa gets lots of drawings and school photos.

One family sent him a glossy Christmas card covered with snapshots. Cramer likes the photos -- it's nice to visualize the people she's writing to, she said.

When a child sends a particularly cute letter, Cramer sets it aside. She sends it back to the parents, in case they want to hold onto it.

She went through a stack of letters at home on a recent morning. She already had read many of them, but a smile still spread across her face.

She giggled at one letter, in which a child listed "unrealistic" and "more realistic" wishes. "And then there was one that said, 'I'm sorry for being so mean to my sister. But sometimes she deserves it.' "

"Every year, it just gets better and better," Cramer said.

A few -- ones with hints of hardship -- always capture Cramer's heart, and she and her elves give Santa even more help by picking up gifts and delivering them.

This year, Cramer came across a letter from an elderly woman struggling to pay her power bill. Cramer said she'll take it to the woman's energy provider.

In another letter, a single mom of two young kids talked of losing her job. "I don't see a way this year of making a Christmas for my girls," the letter read. "If you could find it in your heart to help me and my family out this holiday season it will be appreciated."

Acting as Santa's mail keeper is time-consuming, but Cramer -- who also has a 7-month-old, Ryker -- said she won't hang up her elf ears anytime soon.

She likes reading the letters, learning what kids like. It makes them feel special to hear back from Santa, she said.

"I think my big thing is, I just like giving back. I know that we are fortunate to be able to have food on the table. I was raised to appreciate what you have," Cramer said, sitting in her kitchen next to a stack of letters.

A Christmas tree covered in bright lights sat in the corner.

Sara, the little elf, stood nearby. Cramer hopes to pass on to her a very special kind of Christmas magic.

"I want her to understand it's not about presents, it's not about what you receive," she said. "It's how much can you give."

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service