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FROM LEFT, MRS. CLAUS AND SANTA CLAUS rode at the very end of the Sparta Christmas Parade in an open sleigh.

It’s an annual holiday tradition that we always protect. Every year, the Christian County Headliner News shares letters that children from Christian County write to Santa Claus.

On its face, it’s a simple act. We free up some space in our newspaper and turn it over to kids for a bit of holiday fun. With a little bit of reading, these letters to Santa Claus give us a fascinating look into the thoughts of first grade students. In their simple writing, the children sometimes offer us laughs, some heartbreak, and plenty of hope for the future.

Letters to Santa offer some refreshing honesty, like when Elliott from Nixa fessed up to some misbehavior.

“I have been a little naughty this year. I am sorry,” Elliott wrote.

It’s alright, Elliott. You are getting older and starting to understand that you are responsible for your actions. We’ve all had our moments. The important thing to learn is that we can all do some things better next year. Next year starts right now, so let’s try every day to behave.

Kids have questions for Santa Claus, and lots of them. They want to know how Santa Claus travels around the world in a single 24-hour span, how reindeer fly, and how one man can consume the earth’s population in cookies in such a short period of time.

Never underestimate the hunger of a man tasked with working hard manual labor for more than 24 hours straight. His metabolism will be firing on all 12 cylinders, and he will have a serious appetite. That sugar and those calories will be badly needed with all of that lifting and climbing.

Other classes seem fascinated by Santa’s elves. It’s nice to see some credit given to the folks working hard behind the scenes. Credit for a good Christmas ultimately starts and finishes with Santa himself, but he wouldn’t be able to do what he does without thousands of hard-working helpers. It’s really the working people, little people, who make our Christmas economy go.

It’s great to see kids ask for useful items like art supplies, science kits, building sets and musical instruments like a guitar or a piano. We live in a world where creativity is often stifled or even discouraged because it’s just so hard and unlikely to make a living at creative work in a corporate world. Yet, we should continue to encourage kids to explore their creative abilities. Now is the time to encourage those skills.

The world needs beautiful—and maybe some not-so-beautiful—art now, more than ever.

We also enjoy some of the more heartfelt moments found in the child’s letters. Shawn from Nixa wrote simply, “I don’t want a present. I want to spend time with my family.”

I sincerely hope Shawn’s family gave him what he wanted.

Bryleigh asked for a cooking set because she wants to learn to help her grandma make food. Aaric asked for money to buy gifts for his mom. Both of those requests are selfless and wonderful.

A boy asked for a mask to scare his sister, a girl asked for walkie talkies, and another first-grader asked for vampire teeth and fake blood. I hope they all got what they asked for. Sometimes a little mischief is both fun and educational, as long as it isn’t taken too far to the point that it becomes malicious and hurtful.

And that brings us to the letters that pull at our hearts, like the kiddo who wrote, and I’m paraphrasing for spelling accuracy here, “I don’t know if you can do this, but can you bring my mom back, please?”

That’s it. That’s all Xayden wrote. I probably will never meet Xayden, but if I ever did, I’d tell him this:

Santa Claus is magical, but Santa Claus is not always capable of giving us everything we want. Sometimes the world is still a cruel and cold place. Sometimes bad things happen and there is no amount of explaining adults can do to make it right. Sometimes, our dearest loved ones go away. Sometimes that’s just for a little while, sometimes it’s for a long while, and sometimes it’s forever.

Loved ones never really leave us. They stay with us in our memories, in our minds and in our hearts. Just like Santa Claus, you mom is watching over you right now. She lives in your heart and will love you always.

—Rance Burger

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