Early Letters to Santa

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A week or so before Christmas the year Sabrina was 2, I was full of holiday cheer. And why not? The halls were decked, the cookies baked, and the tree trimmed. Best of all, my shopping was finished. No fighting crowds of last-minute shoppers for me! I was quite happy to stay home in my flannel P.J.'s and watch "Miracle on 34th Street," thank you very much.

In an effort to spread my good cheer, I asked my darling daughter — for about the hundredth time that season — what she hoped Santa would bring. We'd been talking about Santa non-stop since Thanksgiving, when we had watched him come to town on TV in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I was sure I knew what Sabrina's answer would be, because she'd told me many times before: a baby doll stroller.

Then, sweet little Sabrina in her red-and green-outfit and matching tights said something that unraveled all of my carefully planned preparations, "A cradle for my baby."

"Don't you mean a stroller for your baby?" I nudged, my heart racing.

"No. I want Santa to bring a cradle." Her mind was made up.

A friend advised me to stick with what I had prepared, assuring me that Sabrina would forget all about the cradle by Christmas morning. I knew my daughter, though. There was no way she was going to forget. If there were going to be a miracle on our street that year, I would need to enlist a little help from Santa himself.

I elbowed my way to the baby doll aisle of every over-crowded toy store in a 30-mile radius. Finally, four days before Christmas, I found a perfect hand-made wooden cradle at a holiday craft fair. Crisis averted.

When Christmas morning came, Sabrina was delighted. (In fact, she is 13 now and although she has long since stopped playing with baby dolls, she still has that cradle in her room.)

The following year, eager to avoid desperate, last-minute holiday shopping, I created a new holiday tradition — early letters to Santa.

We knew from watching "Miracle on 34th Street" and the Macy's parade that Santa Claus comes to town on Thanksgiving Day. It seemed to make sense to mail our letter to him before he left the North Pole.

So, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I sat down with Sabrina to help her write her letter to Santa. On the way to the mailbox, I explained to Sabrina that Old Saint Nick might be magic, but the man is busy. Giving him advance notice is just common courtesy. And we all know how much Santa likes courteous children.

This early letter-writing tradition worked so well, we've practiced it every year since. It really helped us keep the magic of Santa alive. But best of all, it has helped give this Santa's helper enough time to prepare so I can enjoy the holidays the way I want to — snuggling on the couch with my family, watching "Miracle on 34th Street" in my flannel P.J.'s.

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Early Letters to Santa

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