The tragic end of reindeer mail

This may just be the saddest story I’ve read all year.

Writes James Bone in The Times:

“Children who write letters to Father Christmas this year will no longer receive an answer from the North Pole — in case the jolly old man turns out to be a paedophile.”

Apparently there was a scare at the North Pole last year, when a sex-offender somehow wangled his way into the US Postal Service’s Santa Claus letter reply writing operation.

So now, although the perve didn’t actually do any damage (he was stopped before he got round to writing back and offering any personal visits!), kids won’t get their ‘Dear Father Christmas ‘ letters answered. Lots of anger about this – you can join the ‘Keep Santa Letters’ Facebook group here.

Instead, they’ll be recycled. Which I suppose is admirable, but a little bit Scrooge like. It is Christmas, after all. And they are (one hopes) letters from cute little nippers. I definitely think Obama should get involved. With unemployment so high in America still, surely there are legions of unemployed writers willing to do the job. CRB checked and all.

Hey, maybe that is what I’ll do when I don’t find a journalism job…

Tragic news really. Writing letters to (probably) imaginary characters is a massive part of childhood (really hope there are no believers reading this post). It isn’t just Santa, there is also the Tooth Fairy and G-d to add into the equation.

As a kid I remember righting passionate missives to the tooth fairy arguing for some form of monetary increase, posting carefully folded notes to Him upstairs through the cracks in the Western Wall, and writing to Father Christmas asking for seasonal presents, the fact that my family don’t celebrate it apparently escaping my notice.

These weren’t usually taken up on. I never did get that financial bonus that I asked the Tooth Fairy for.

And though my parents framed my infant school letter asking Santa for a Barbie Dream House, that never came down the chimney.

Still, it seems a shame that the world has become so cynical that even a letter to Father X can be deemed problematic. Sure, I can see the problem with kids sitting on the knee of some bloke in a red suit and white beard, telling him what presents they wanted (and anyway, with swine flu now it’s totally unhygienic). And I’m totally in support of checks on authors going into primary schools, and stringent scrutiny of those working with children. It’s sad, but evidence shows it to be necessary.

But effectively abolishing Santa Claus? As anyone who has ever watched Miracle on 34th Street would know, all the letters written to him prove his existence.

He’s even on Twitter. And Facebook (upcoming event: Christmas). It seems silly to get rid of his snail mail address.

As the Mayor of the North Pole (what a job title – could be the only politician who can place expenses for reindeer transport?) has said:

What Grinch would conceive of something so sinister?”.

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