The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in the hearts of two Marion librarians with a direct line to Santa Claus.
Janet Marler, Marion City Library director, and librarian Joan Winter have interacted with Santa for at least a decade, which is but a blip in time to Old St. Nick considering he is believed by some to be about 1,746 years old.
In their brief time knowing Santa, Marler and Winter convinced him to write back to children’s Christmas letters submitted to the library, which is somewhat of a holiday miracle considering Santa reads letters from around the world, but does not write back to everyone.
Granted, he deserves a little slack, what with managing elves, designing toys, tending to Rudolph and the other reindeer, and sorting out who has been naughty and nice. Santa habitually runs short on time, let alone has occasion for date nights with Mrs. Claus.
“So much has changed in the world,” Marler said. “We told Santa we wanted to try to keep some of the old fashioned things, the things we treasured from our childhood, by passing them on to our kids.”
The sincerity of the librarians’ nostalgic appeal worked and Santa agreed to write back to any child who wrote a letter and dropped them off at the library.
The library collects about 100 letters each year, she said, the most being 120 one year. Winter said Santa uses only the magic of the written word to respond to letters.
“He does all the writing,” Winter said. “He types them on his computer. Each letter gets individual consideration and thought.”
Santa works late and uses many different checklists to accomplish the extra task, she said. The elves help by picking up letters from the library and taking them back to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole. She said the elves fold and seal Santa’s letters in envelopes and put a stamp on each.
Many children ask for classic presents like toy trucks, dolls and Legos, but sometimes there are requests that are more memorable or even puzzling.
“Some requests are harder for him to fill than others,” Marler said. “Some kids ask for puppies or horses, or other things that he’s not always sure parents would agree with, and with some toys he’s not even sure what they are. But he advises kids to check with their mom and dad, and usually tells them he doesn’t have room in his sleigh for all their requests because he has to deliver gifts to kids all around the world.”
Children also often inquire about his reindeer and ask Santa to bring gifts for their siblings or parents, too, Marler said.
“Some can be very conscientious of their family members,” she said. “It’s nice because it’s not just ‘I want, I want, I want.’”
Santa also has told Marler and Winter about times when children’s requests have take on a distressing tone concerning things that have happened to them.
“I can’t remember all the details but there were some that were just so sad where he wished he could help them,” Marler said. “It touched our hearts when he told us, but he always makes sure to tell children that there are people who love them, and to ask help from another adult like a teacher if they need it.”
Interacting with Santa on such a personal level also affords Marler and Winter a special satisfaction. Each treasures their part in keeping the Christmas spirit alive.
“It’s fun to hear the kids talk about how they got letters back from Santa,” Marler said. “It’s fun to see the innocence in that.”
Winter added, “It’s great to hear the excitement in their voices and see it in their eyes.”