December 23, 1907 – Annual Letter comes from Santa Claus
St. James Sewing School had its Christmas entertainment in the Sunday school room, on Saturday afternoon. There were present one hundred and forty children, all scholars in the school and quite a large number of spectators, and they had a merry time. The children did a little sewing shortly after the session opened, and then they sang a few songs, recited in unison some things that must be done in helping their mothers to keep house, and then listened to a program made up of songs and recitations. After this a letter, the annual letter which Santa Claus sends to the children of the sewing school was read.
Santa has used the same envelope for this annual letter for the past seventeen or eighteen years. It is getting worn and will hardly hold the letter. In fact, it did not hold the one received yesterday, for while the envelope had been securely tied to one of the gas fixtures, the letter was picked up by Mrs. Charles N. Downs in the room in the rear of the Sunday School, where Santa Claus must have dropped it. Mrs. Downs thought that this indicated that Santa Claus was either getting old or was in a very big hurry the night before, for he is never careless.
Children Who Recited
The audience were all eager to hear the letter read. In fact, they could hardly wait for the children to recite their pieces and sing their songs, but these had to be given first in order to show Santa Claus that the little girls could be patient. Those who sang and recited were Hattie Knapp, Katherine Cuneo, Marjorie Parker, Ethel Burr, Ruth Clark, Salome Pickle, Mary Hopkins, Carrie Coleman, Martha Hipkins, Marjorie Affleck, Medora Burgoyne, Irene Tyrrell, Helen Fifer, Edith Talberg, Marian Coggswell, Elsie Anderson, Ethel Lewis, Katherine Loomis, Liano Brown, Ethel Welton, Iverna Freeman, Helen Osborne, Della Conley.
After these children had done their parts and had been applauded, Mrs. Downs took up the letter. She stood beside a reading desk, on the top of which was perched a Teddy bear, and unfolding the letter she read it, saying she thought the writing must have been done by Santa Claus’s secretary, and was very much like the writing of Miss Ada Shelton1. The letter was as follows:
Iceberg Post Office
My Dear Girls of the Sewing School:
The Christmas stars are shining once again, the big round Christmas moon comes up at night over the Derby hills, the Christmas snow has made the world very white, once more, and now your old friend, Santa Claus, sits down by his blazing, crackling fire to write you a letter and wish you all a Merry Christmas.
Everything is ready for me to start off on my big journey. It must seem wonderful to you that I can travel in one night from Alaska to Florida, from England to Germany, and back to South America, but only the reindeer and I know the secret of my wonderful journeys.
My sleigh is packed, packed full of everything that everybody likes, the reindeer are harnessed, their bells jingling in the cold frosty air, and Mrs. Claus has asked me for the twentieth time if anything has been forgotten. Dear kind, busy Mrs. Santa Claus! How could I ever do so many things for the children if it were not for her help?
Day after day she stirs the big kettles of candy, cooking and sizzling them over our fire, stirs them with a spoon almost as long as a trolley pole, pours in peppermint and wintergreen and cinnamon, and rich, sticky chocolate, throws in handfuls of nuts, and makes all of the fine candy you can see on the counters of Mr. Wise’s2 store. She gets so sticky and sweet herself that when I kiss her good-night her round, rosy cheeks taste of all the sugar plumbs in the country. There is one thing we never make at the North Pole, and that is chewing gum. Santa Claus never puts that in anybody’s stocking.
Think of dressing five million, seven hundred and fifty eight thousand dolls, trimming all of their hats, and making all of their petticoats. Why, only last night I discovered that my good wife had cut up nearly all my red flannel shirts to make automobile coats for the dollies. How she laughed when I found her at my chimney cupboard, but she said she must have her dolls dressed in the fashion, so I let her take the shirts, while I kept on painting sleds, tying up skates, and making whistles out of a wonderful tree in the forest, called the Whistle Tree. Then of course I have a great time catching all the Teddy bears. Our woods are full of them. They are very tame, as you know, with a soft wooly coat, for everybody has to be warm at the bleak North Pole. I step outside of Reindeer Lodge, and call “Teddy, Teddy, Teddy”, and then the little bears all come trooping up to be fed with peanuts. They are black, and white, and brown, and yellow, but they are all good little fellows and I pop them into the sleigh just as fast as I can, pack them under the seat, hundreds and hundreds of them. It sometimes seems as if I could never catch enough to go round among the children.
Dear Mrs. Claus sends you with her love something from our big kettles, and she tell me it is time to stop writing, and say good-bye, for all of the reindeer are stamping out side and all the Teddy bears are whimpering.
I hope that you will have a Merry Christmas and remember it is the best day of the whole year to be kind and loving to everyone.
Your old friend, whose whiskers are growing whiter and larger ever year, and who’s heart is growing bigger and bigger.
Enjoyed the Letter
The children listened to the letter with the closest of attention and laughed very much at the comparison of Mrs. Claus’s ladle to a trolley pole. After the reading was completed, a great big basket filled with bags of candy was uncovered and each girl was given a bag. Then the children, after singing another song, were dismissed and went home, being told before they left that there would not be a session of the school next Saturday afternoon.
1. Miss Ada Shelton was the daughter of the late Edward N. Shelton, for whom the City of Shelton is named, and the sister of the late author Jane DeForest Shelton. She lived at the family estate of Greystone, where today’s Irving School is.
2. Wise’s drugstore was on the corner of Main Street and Elizabeth Street.