Not Expecting a Letter from Santa: Write Yourself One!

Road Schooled by Joe Trey: AKA Adventure Hermit

Photo by: Joe Trey

Santa by Many Names

Everyone deserves a Letter from Santa. Be it from Weihnachtsmann, Babbo Natale, Kris Kringle, Père Noël, Papa Noel, Ded Moroz, Papai Noel, Noel Baba, Święty Mikołaj, or well . . . yourself.

My daughters are 13 and 16 years old. Do they believe in Santa Clause? How about the Elf (Nokio-No-No-Why) that shows up each year? Of course, they do. Are they delusional? Are they fooling themselves? No.

The key is they BELIEVE in something. Our girls know it was us that put our elf in Quarantine for 14 days, so we didn't have to move him. They know we eat the cookies, tip over and scatter the popcorn in our yard, and bite the carrots in half.

Like my sister and I knew as kids when we started leaving Jack Daniels' shots next to Santa's Egg nog. We knew it wasn't for the Jolly Old Elf. I'm sure Santa Enjoys a well-deserved nip, no, and again. But he'd get awful sleepy after that many shots on Christmas Eve! If he was doing shots in the United States, he'd never make it south to Mexico and Central and South America. Which are, according to Norad, the final stops on Christmas Eve, barring any weather re-routing.

Santa for Everyone

I've never seen Santa as strictly a Christian construct. I suppose this comes from having a Catholic Grandfather and a Jewish Grandmother. While I know some base him on the Christian Saint, St. Nicholas. Many countries know "him" by many names. They all have a unique backstory. That is because it is the believing that matters, Not Santa personified.

Rankin & Bass

I learned my version of Santa, thanks to the stop motion magic of Rankin & Bass. In 1970, the coincidental year of my birth, they released Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town. The story tells us of an orphan. Left on the doorstep of Burgermeister Meisterburger. He is a grumpy man who rules over Sombertown. The origin of the baby is unknown, but he has a name tag reading "Claus." Burgermeister is not interested in raising an Orphan. So he sends the baby to the Orphan Asylum.

On the way, a gust of wind blows the baby to a mountain of the Whispering Winds. The animals help to bring the baby to a family of Elves named Kringle. Once the most revered Toy Makers in the Kingdom. The family adopts Claus into their home and call him "Kris." As he grows up, he dreams of restoring the Kringle family as the "First Toy Makers to the King."

Kris Kringle begins bringing toys into Sombertown. This angers Burgermeister, who locks him in jail. This forces Kris to start delivering presents in secret. His adopted mother, Tanta, tells Kris his real last name. He is sad to discover he is not a Kringle by birth. But he accepts Tanta's wisdom and goes back to his birth name. He knows Burgermeister and the soldiers are looking for a Kringle, not a Claus.

This is an early example of recognizing that Kris Kringle is about belief and behavior, not a person. The story also gives us the origin of Mrs. Clau, flying reindeer, and of course, Letters to Santa!


After 2020, we could all use a little Christmas Cheer. But it can be challenging. Many are trying to wish 2020 away. But, honestly, that was happening in 2019, when we dreamed of 2020! We cling to dates and New Year's as a form of salvation. But our lives will not change because of a date. Each day can be as grand or as miserable as we make it.

I say this as someone who has stared into some of my darkest days and managed to get out. I've also missed some of the most incredible days because I was too focused on the future. We hear to "not live in the past." There is truth in that. But, it does not mean we shouldn't pause on occasion and reflect on our accomplishments.

As I sat down this year to write "Santa Letters" to my two daughters, I recognized the importance of positive reflection. Even if that achievement was little more than watching the entire season of the American version of THE OFFICE from start to finish— like my 16-year-old did. I try to write them a letter each year that builds them up. Helps them see the good.

There is something special about getting a message. Be it from an Elf who sits on a shelf or from Santa. It makes us feel seen. Quarantine has created isolation that many of us have never experienced before. It has made us feel alone, scared, and confused.

Write Yourself a Santa Letter: STEP BY STEP

Photo by: Joe Trey

This is why even if you do expect a letter from Santa, write yourself one as well! Here are some easy steps to get you started:

1. Make a list of all you can remember from last year.

2. Use pictures to jog your memory. Scroll through your camera roll and makes notes about memories.

3. Start Writing: This may seem obvious. Don't overthink it. Look back on your previous year. Pick the first incident that comes to mind and start writing. Don't worry about the topic. It could be a hike you took. A meal you cooked. Or a difficult loss. Regardless, start writing. If you find writing too tricky, simplify. Write down a list of things that happened throughout your year.

4. Once you have gathered up your memories, reflect on the positive parts of each. This can be more difficult when writing about loss or painful memories. But, if you think about them long enough, you can get there. No matter how hard this seems, you can always acknowledge that you are alive and able to reflect.

5. Now, write as an observer. It can be hard to write about yourself. So remove yourself. Pretend everything you noted in step 4 is about someone else. Someone you care about that you are trying to encourage and life up. Write that Letter from Santa!

For example, here is an excerpt of a letter I wrote to my daughter:

"Watching you discover the artist within you as your started painting was magical. Wow? I didn't see that coming. Then you set up your PhiaTcreates website to share and even sell your art. That would never have happened in a typical school year. Way to make the most of things!"

I should add you don't have to use "Santa." As I mentioned in the beginning, Santa has many names. Use George Clooney if you prefer. Or a friend or family member. Anyone that you would appreciate noticing you. Because you deserve to be seen! You deserver a letter of recognition.

If you typed your letter, print it out. Hold it in your hand. Sign it big and bold from whomever you chose to say it is from. Read your letter out loud. More than once if you must. Because you deserve to hear the good in your life. Forget about New Year's resolutions. Let your successes carry you into 2021 and beyond!

Happy Holidays!


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Joe Trey is known in certain circles as Adventure Hermit! A moniker fitting of his ambivert nature. Visions of rock stardom drove him to get a BFA in music from the University of Connecticut. Not long after, he abandoned his dreams of NYC and relocated to the Rocky Mountains! He has been known to "drink a toe." Don't ask. Or do! His work and love of travel have brought him nearly around the world. Writing, Hiking, Camping, Music, Motorcycles get him up and out each day. Hugging his wife and teenage daughters at night, bring him home! Not a tortoise, not a hare (but a bit hairy in all the wrong places), Joe only competes with himself. Through his writing and adventures, he encourages others to do the same!

Aurora, CO

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