They asked for apples and oranges, puppies and candy, new shoes and dolls with dresses. Some wrote in heartfelt verse; some made heartbreaking appeals on behalf of needy loved ones. Some asked for things that just cannot be delivered by sleigh, like joy in a house that has lost a member of the family.
They were children who sent their Christmas wishes to Santa Claus generations ago, in letters addressed to the jolly old elf that ended up at the post office. The US Postal Service this year marked the 100th anniversary of the official start of its Letters to Santa program, which seeks to match the neediest writers with benefactors. But post office workers were fielding children’s wistful missives years before that.