EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 22, 2013

An 1899 Christmas story lives on

Haverhill boy's Christmas wishlist may be oldest existing letter to Santa Claus


Children writing letters to Santa Claus has been an American holiday tradition, one that has been embraced by the U.S. Postal Service for more than a century. The USPS’ Santa letter answering began in 1912 and has evolved into “Letters to Santa.” Hundreds of thousands of children each year send letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska.” Postal “elves” sort the letter choosing the most needy ones. The public, charitable organizations and corporations team up with USPS to answer the dreams of many children.

“It appears that Harry’s letter to Santa was a school activity organized by his teacher on Thursday, December 21, 1899,” Blanchette said.

“Not only was this activity an excellent third-grade exercise in grammar and cursive penmanship, the letter to Santa was obviously brought home for Harry’s parents to see, giving them an 11th hour idea of Harry’s desires just days before Christmas morning, the following Monday. As mothers have done for generations, Harry’s mother cherished and saved her only son’s letters to Santa,” he said.

Blanchette believes he’s got the oldest one — and one that will be passed down to future generations of his family.

“Yes Harry, there is a Santa Claus,” he said, recalling the 1897 editorial in the New York Sun, which included the famous line “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus” in response to a letter-to-the editor from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon.




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