Dear Santa…( and Two Chances to Win a $100 Prize)

  

According to Santa the most requested item this year is an Apple iPad.   I couldn”t help but smile upon discovering that among the most requested items on letters to Santa in the 1800s was an—apple.  Kind of brings to mind that old saying; the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

The tradition of writing to Santa supposedly started in 1871 when Harper’s Weekly published a cartoon by Thomas Nest showing Santa sitting at his desk reading letters. Fortunately, letters to Santa were often published in nineteenth century newspapers, giving us a glimpse into the hearts of Victorian children and society as a whole.

 

The form of the letter hasn’t changed much through the years. Then as now, girls generally wrote longer letters than boys and tended to be more polite, asking after Santa’s wife or reindeer. Most letters included a testament to good behavior, although Santa might well shake his head today if he received the following:

Dear Santa, I’m 12 years old and have been good. Please bring cigarettes.  Your friend, Paul.

 

Some children mentioned seeing a particular toy in a store window, but the Sears Catalogue was the Wish Book of choice. Some enterprising boys and girls even include catalogue page numbers in their letters.

Dear Santa,
You can send me one of everything from the boys” section of the Sears catalogue. But nothing from the girls” section. – Kent

 

The Henry Ford household apparently didn”t have a Sears Catalogue:

Dear Santa Claus:
I Havent Had Any Christmas Tree in 4 Years And I Have Broken My Trimmings And I Want A Pair of Roller Skates And A Book, I Cant Think Of Any Thing More. I Want You To Think O Something More. Good By. Edsel Ford

 

I was surprised by the number of girls asking for boy dolls. Dolls with brown eyes were all the rage in the 1880s; previously only blue-eyed dolls were available.  Shooting off fireworks was a popular way to celebrate Christmas, so it was no surprise to find many requests for roman candles and pop crackers—mostly from boys.  Trains, baby carriages, cook stoves, alphabet blocks and marbles were also popular items. 

 

Many letters in the 1800s inquired as to Santa’s health, which puzzled me, until one letter writer cleared up the mystery.  It seems that parents unable to afford Christmas toys told their kiddies that Santa was sick and couldn’t come. 

 

Many children remembered to ask Santa for something for siblings, but this letter from Texas  gave me pause:

Dear Santa, please bring my baby brother a rattler. 

 

It was tempting at times to read between the lines:

Dear Santa, I had an accident happen to me not long ago.  Please bring a rifle.  Your friend Amos

 

 I hope Santa left castor oil with this hefty load :

Dear Santa, I write these lines because my stomach is very empty and keeps flip-flopping;  Please send a barrel of nuts, 14 pounds of candy, a small barrel of molasses and chewing gum.-Jesse

 

Santa it seemed could do anything: One little girl asked for a cradle and washboard and a “sweetheart for my teacher, Miss Georgia.

 

One thing that really stood out was the charitable nature of children.  Many letters contained pleas for poor children. In 1893 One little Texas boy named Louis St. Clair “bursted” his bank to send Santa twenty-five cents to give to the “poor little sick boy.”

 

Requests for teddy bears started popping up in the early 1900s and something called an Irish Mail, pictured here.

 

Children didn’t always receive their heart’s desire, which probably explains the number of letters that ended like this: And don’t try to fool me.”

 

DEAR SANTA: Now it”s your turn:  What do you want from Santa this year?

What I want is for one of you to win a prize.

  

How to Enter the HONK IF YOU LOVE BOOKS contest:

In WAITING FOR MORNING set in the Arizona Territory in 1896, Dr. Caleb Fairbanks introduces the residents of the Last Chance Ranch to his beloved “horseless carriage” named Bertha.  When Caleb and his backfiring Bertha incite gunfire from former dance hall girl, Molly Hatfield, the handsome doctor knows he”s in for an adventure with the intriguing woman and her spirited wheelchair bound kid brother, Donny.

Share your memory of a car that played an important role in your life”s story for a chance to win a $100 gas card. Email your story (no more than a couple of paragraphs) to contests@nancyberland.com.  Winners will be notified on January 8.

CARS NOT YOUR THING?

There”s still time to enter the Preorder Contest for a chance to win $100 Amazon or B&N Gift card from my publisher.  To enter, order the book and copy proof of sale to: .  To order click on cover.  It”s that simple, but hurry; contests ends January 8th.

 

 

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Margaret has published more than 46 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.

38 thoughts on “Dear Santa…( and Two Chances to Win a $100 Prize)”

  1. Love those Santa letters, Margaret. Growing up in a small town, we LIVED for the Sears Christmas Catalog and couldn’t wait to see the dolls. I still have some beautiful Madame Alexander dolls from that era(minus their hair after my nephews scalped them years later at my Mom’s house, but that’s another story).
    My Christmas stocking wish–peace on earth, health and prosperity for my loved ones.

  2. I spent half my year’s salary for a new gold Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was a beautiful car but from the beginning it was clear the gold car was really a yellow lemon. It had a transmission problem thatthe car dealer couldn’t fix it after repeated attempts. Finally, in frustration I called the president of the company in Michigan one Saturday morning. Amazingly, I got through to his home and talked with his wife. He was on the golf course, she said, and he would call me. He called and after hearing my story,said he would fly a factory mechanic to KY to fix it. And he did! End of problem. I kept the car for 22 years and on a whim decided to call and thank him again. Unfortunately, he hadn’t lived as long as my car.

  3. Cars were not my thing when I was a kid. But I totally forgot about the Sears catalog until you mentioned it! every Xmas i used to devour that thing and rip out what I wanted. How could I have forgotten that! Great memory.

  4. I am always amazed at the historical tidbits you come up with. I never dreamed kids wrote Santa letter in the 1800’s. Guess I just never thought about it. But there’s another book in that Margaret. HOHOHO. The wishes remind me of the wills I used to read when doing my genealogy where they left a broom, a rocking chair, etc. It’s fascinating what was important or desired by people then vs people now. Imagine another hundred years from now. Dear Santa, I want a new hydro-clorium space suit for Christmas, mine wore out after my 10th trip to Mars.

  5. What a fabulous look back in time. Children don’t change much, do they? Technology might change and the numbers of gifts one asks for might change, but the heart rarely does.

    Had a great giggle over the baby “rattler”. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. When I was little, my mom had a 69 Chevy Camero. She sold it a couple of years later. I asked her why she sold it and she said it was haunted. She kept having these dreams that she was going down a big hill backwards. She sold it before her dream came true.

  7. Just had to say…
    Our local newspaper publishes about 4 pages of ‘letters to Santa’ from kids in the Valley. Some are beautiful, while others are so funny, when they aren’t intended to be. And some will truly bring tears to your eyes.
    My boys would devour the Sears Catalog every year. But they always ended up wanting the same thing. Cowboy and Indian plastic men with horses and corrals, etc.
    I’ll get my story down to 2 paragraphs and send it in.

  8. Hi Chelley, I was thinking the same thing: what would they want a 100 years from now. You’re probably right about the hydro-clorium space suit, designed by a man named Apple.

    Merry Christmas hugs!

  9. I remember the Penney’s Christmas Wish Book coming every year. We would just wear it out…me and my seven brothers and sisters…looking through it at the TOY SECTION. We cared nothing for the clothes. 🙂

  10. Hi Margaret, delightful post that had me laughing out loud even as I learned something, as I always do here in Wildflower Junction. I’m in the tail end of getting my Christmas present early–all three bathrooms updated and remodeled. Sheesh, whoever in 21st century California would ever be grateful for a working toilet! (Fortunately we have great neighbors and all three new commodes are now up and running LOL.)

    As for my grandson’s Christmas list–he just turned six: it’s so full of weird toys that I decided to get him a Teddy Bear. He said okay LOL.

  11. Oh, goody Mary J–do send in your story. You make me wish for the good old days. Plastic cowboys didn’t cost as much as video games and there was no question as to what they wanted.

    My grandkiddies have to send me picture so I know how to decipher their wish lists.

    Merry Christmas!

  12. After I graduated from college I pooled my hard earned cash and a little graduation present money to purchase my first car, a red, Toyota Celica. I married a year later and I have fond memories of our honeymoon trip out West where we camped in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and Colorado. We managed to fit everything in that little trunk and back seat. It was fun zipping around the mountains in that little car. I was petrified of some of the close turns and scary drop offs as you went through the mountains. It also managed to survive many winters without an accident on snow covered roads in Wisconsin. I was sad to sell it when it became too small for our growing family.

  13. OOPS! I forgot to mention…from Santa I want a Sonic Care toothbrush. I’ve heard they’re wonderful. I also want the CD soundtrack from the movie version of Phantom of the Opera. I saw the 25th anniversary play of it last weekend and that renewed my love of this Andrew LLoyd Weber musical.

  14. Laurie, what a great honeymoon. Do send your story to the contest.

    I hope Santa brings you The Phantom. Can’t believe it’s the 25th anniversary already! I’ve seen the play at least three times–once in Vegas.

    Thank you for stopping by and Merry Christmas

  15. So funny. I love reading little children’s letters to Santa. They’re hilarious. Unfortunately, Santa can’t bring what I want for Christmas. It has to go in the God basket. Merry Christmas to you!!

  16. Margaret,

    This was a fun post. I loved the rattler request. Hmmm…you have to wonder what kind of rattler he meant.

    We never taught our boys about Santa, because gifts were hard to come by when our four boys were young, and we wanted them to know they came from us. And we wanted them to focus on Jesus as the reason for the Christmas season.

  17. Hi Vickie, nice to see you in these parts. One Christmas, my then two year old started to cry because mommy and daddy didn’t give him anything for Christmas. Silly us; we signed everything from Santa. We learned our lesson and from then on we opened family presents on Christmas eve after church and Santa’s presents on Christmas morn.

    Have a wonder Christmas.

  18. I can remember shopping in the Sears Catalogue for my Christmas gifts. There where four of us and we would fight over who got the catalogue. This post brings back a lot of memories.

  19. Hi Kirsten, thenk you for stopping by. I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂

    Quilt Lady, I have some fond memories of the Sears Catalogue, too It was a race to see who got to it first.

    Merry Christmas

  20. Enjoyed reading your column today.Kids say the funniest things, don’t they.
    For the first time in a long while I don’t have a thing that I really want for Christmas. Last year I got an iPad which I’m really enjoying. So I’ll be content with whatever Santa brings me.

  21. Great selection of letters to Santa. I guess our definitions of GOOD vary quite a bit.
    Thanks for the two links. I hope WAITING FOR MORNING does well.

  22. I’ve never been a fan of cars, even though my dad sells them. I’m already happy when I have a car that gets me where I want to go. :p

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