Christmas All My Life

Dear Santa,

My name is Jessica and I am eleven years old. I am writing to you to tell you what I want for Christmas.

I don’t want toys. Mommy and Daddy buy me lots of toys. I don’t want clothes. Gramma always gets me clothes. I don’t want books. We go to the library once a week, and I am scared if I have too many books, Mommy won’t drop me off at the library anymore. I like the librarians. They are nice.

All I want for Christmas is a friend. I don’t have anyone to talk to. I get lonely a lot.

Hope you have a merry Christmas.

Love,

Jessica

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Dear Jessica,

I don’t normally write back to Christmas list letters, but you are a very special girl. I wanted to make sure you got your Christmas wish, so as my gift to you, I will be your pen pal. Please write to me whenever you are feeling lonely.

Love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

Can we really be pen pals? I’ve never had a pen pal. I am very excited. This is the best Christmas present I ever got.

Love,

Jessica

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Dear Jessica,

Yes, we can be pen pals. I will write back whenever I can, although as you probably know, I get very busy around the holidays. You will have to be extra patient around Christmastime. In fact, this will probably be my last letter until after the New Year. But as I said, please do write whenever you’re feeling lonely. I will always read your letters, even if I can’t write back right away. And I will keep you in my thoughts, so you will feel less alone.

I hope you are well. Merry Christmas, my special girl. I’ll see you at Christmas, even if you don’t see me.

Love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

It’s Christmas Eve, so I decided to leave this letter with your cookies and milk. I know the rules, that you can’t come to my house and drop off presents until I’m asleep. I wish I could stay awake and say hello, but at least you’re going to visit me.

I hope you like the cookies. Tell your reindeer I said hello. And Mrs. Claus, too.

Merry Christmas.

Love,

Jessica

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(note found on the back of Jessica’s)

Dear Jessica,

Your note with the cookies was so sweet, so I decided to bend the rules a little bit and write you a quick note back. I will pass your greetings and love along to the reindeer and Mrs. Claus.

A very merry Christmas to you, too.

P.S. The cookies were perfect.

-Santa

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Dear Santa,

Christmas break is over, and I’m back at school now. I got tons of toys and clothes for Christmas. Every time I tried to show Mommy or Daddy something, though, they told me they were too busy, and they’d look later. Mommy even yelled at me when I was trying to tell her a story, so I stayed in my room the rest of the break. I don’t think they even cared. Maybe they were even happy I did.

I’m glad to be back at school, even though the other kids don’t talk to me much, and the teachers are what Mommy and Daddy call strict (and I call mean), to make sure we work hard so we can go to good colleges and get good jobs.

I suppose I want a good job someday. I’m not an elf, but could I come work at your workshop for you when I grow up? I will know how to work hard. I promise.

Love,

Your pen pal,

Jessica

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Dear Jessica,

Christmas break is over for us, as well, and we’re heading into our quiet time. Things will pick up again, soon, but for now, we’re taking a much needed rest.

We’d be lucky up here at the North Pole to have someone like you working for us. Tell you what. When you are old enough, after you finish school and have tried out a job or two, if you are still interested, you’re more than welcome to come work for me. We have lots of people who aren’t elves working up here.

For now, keep working hard in school, but also make sure to have some fun doing the things you love. It’s important to do both. And someday, maybe you will be able to get a job doing something you love. Just like me! Then it won’t ever feel like work.

I am sorry your mother yelled at you. That was unkind of her. It’s not enough to put her on the naughty list, but let me know if she does it again, and I’ll make an exception, just for you.

I am also sad to hear your classmates won’t talk with you. You mentioned going to the library. Make friends with those librarians. And always keep an eye out for another lonely student. In a school like that, there’s surely someone who needs a friend as much as you do.

Until then, you’ll always have me.

Love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

I promise to keep working hard in school, especially if it means I can get a job at the North Pole someday! I won’t ever change my mind. It would be a dream come true to be able to work with you and think about Christmas all year long.

I did what you said and made friends with a librarian. She is amazing! She recommends all these great books, and we take turns telling stories to each other. She really listens to them, too. It’s so cool.

I also tried to do what you said and make friends at school, but nobody wants to. I will keep trying, but nobody seems lonely here. Just me. I’m glad you are my friend.

Love,

Jessica

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Dear Santa,

I know you haven’t had time to write back yet, but something bad happened, and I’ve been more lonely than usual, so I just had to write you again.

Mommy and Daddy have been very busy. When they get so busy, they sometimes don’t make dinner. I made cereal a few nights, but then we ran out, so I tried to use the microwave. Did you know you can’t put metal in there? I didn’t know that. It made a bunch of sparks, then stopped working.

I hid in my room, scared I was going to get in trouble. I waited until they both left for work before I came out the next day. After school, I hid in my room again, doing homework, waiting for them to come in and yell.

You know what, Santa? They never came in and yelled. And a few days later, we had a brand new microwave, even more fancy than the old one.

I almost wish they had yelled. I know that sounds stupid. I know I should be happy I didn’t get in trouble. But instead of being happy, I just want to microwave more metal. Just to see what happens.

Sorry to write you two letters before you wrote back.

Jessica

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Dearest Jessica,

You don’t ever have to apologize for writing me letters. I read every one, and I am sorry I wasn’t able to write back before you had your bad thing happen.

I am glad you did not get in trouble for breaking the microwave. It was an accident, so it’s not something you should have been punished for. But I wish your parents would have told you that instead of me having to tell you why you didn’t get in trouble.

But doing it again knowing what will happen is not something someone on the nice list would do. Breaking it again might get your parents’ attention, but it won’t make you any less lonely, Jessica. Trust me on that.

Just keep telling stories with your librarian friend. And don’t give up on making friends with another classmate. And as always, write me whenever you feel lonely.

All my love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

Sorry I didn’t write for a long time. I was a little mad at your last letter. I don’t want to be on the naughty list, but I really wanted to break the microwave. I knew it would be naughty, and I didn’t want you to not like me anymore, so I didn’t. But I was mad about it.

But that’s not the only reason I didn’t write. A new girl started at my school. I was still upset about the microwave and your last letter, so I didn’t talk to her at first. But after the first week, I saw she looked lost and lonely. So I started talking to her. Now she is my best friend. Her name is Gina Spenser. I even got to go to her house and play a few times. Her mom is real nice. After she met my parents, she told me I’m welcome to come over any time I want, and Gina doesn’t even have to be home! (Gina has swimming practice after school a lot.) Mrs. Spenser is so nice. She listens to my stories, just like the librarian!

I hope you can forgive me for not writing. It was mean of me.

Hopefully still your pen pal,

Jessica

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Dear Jessica,

Of course I forgive you. I can understand your anger. I hope you’re not angry at me anymore, either. You are such a special girl, so I expect an awful lot from you. Perhaps that’s unfair of me, but I want you to be the best girl you can be. I know you are better than breaking things on purpose so your parents will yell at you.

It’s all behind us, now. We’ll speak no more of it.

I am delighted to hear about Gina and Mrs. Spenser. It sounds like you’ve found a couple of amazing friends. You deserve it, Jessica. It makes my heart light.

Take care of yourself and your new friends. And keep a lookout for other lonely people. They could all use a friend as good as you.

Love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas again! I bet you are really busy.

I have been busy, too. Gina got me to join the swim team with her (Mommy and Daddy said no at first, but Mrs. Spenser promised to give me a ride from school to practice to home, since she was giving Gina a ride anyway, and then they said yes!). We practice a lot, and we made friends with a few other girls. I had my first sleep over. It was so much fun!

Do you know most girls my age don’t believe in Santa anymore? I’m so lucky to know for sure that you are real. Don’t worry. I didn’t tell them we’re pen pals. I know you broke the rules in order to write me. It’s also a little selfish. I don’t want to share. I know that’s bad. They are my friends! I should want to share.

Anyway. Would it be okay if all I got for Christmas again this year is more letters? I love having Santa as a pen pal.

Love,

Jessi

(My new nickname. It’s what the girls call me, now)

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Dear Jessi,

Just a quick note before Christmas to let you know I’m thinking of you this holiday season. I’m so happy you have made so many friends this year. That was one of my Christmas wishes, and it’s pretty magical for Santa to get what he wants for Christmas, too.

You can always write to me. I’d love to keep writing you, too. But this year, I’d like to get you a couple of other presents, as well, if that’s all right with you. You have to have something you can tell your friends about. I do appreciate you keeping us being pen pals a secret. I wish I had time to be pen pals with everyone in the world, but even my magic isn’t enough for that to be possible.

Have an amazing Christmas. See you soon (even if you don’t see me!)

Love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

Thanks for all the amazing presents! Of course you knew exactly what I wanted, and the girls were jealous. Well, not Gina. Gina was just excited for me.

This year, I asked Mom and Dad if I could give some of my old toys to my friends as Christmas presents. They didn’t care, so I was able to do a little Christmas magic myself. I got an idea of what you maybe felt like. I want to work for you when I grow up even more now!

Enjoy your rest. Hope you liked the cookies. Gina helped me make them.

Love,

Jessi

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Dear Jessi,

The cookies were extra good this year. Now I know why. They were made with a double dose of love.

I was right about you. You are such a special girl.

Happy New Year.

Santa

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Dear Santa,

I know I asked for us to be pen pals this year, but I have been so busy I haven’t had time to write you!

Swimming is really good. We’ve been to some meets, and I even medaled. I’ve also been spending a lot of time at Gina’s house. Mrs. Spenser hasn’t been feeling well, and Gina’s been upset about it. She says she had cancer before but was in remission. They’re scared it might be back.

Can you give a person health for Christmas? I don’t see how you could, but if you can, I know that’s what I want for Christmas this year. Half a year isn’t too early to start making a Christmas list, is it?

-Jessi

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Dear Jessi,

I’m glad to hear you are busy. I’m always happy to hear from you, but just as happy when I don’t, because I know that means you’re out there enjoying life.

I am sorry to hear about Mrs. Spenser. I wish I had healing magic, but that is beyond my power. I can put in a good word for you, though. Santa has some pretty good connections. In the meantime, you are doing exactly what you should, being there for your friend.

Write to me if it ever feels like too much to shoulder alone. I will help you however else I can.

Love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

First, I want to say that Gina’s mom is in another remission. We’re all relieved. So if you had anything to do with that, a huge thank you from all of us.

Second, I’m sorry I didn’t write. I know it’s way past Christmas, now, but the holidays were really nice. Mom and Dad went on a trip, so I got to stay with Gina for a whole week. It was probably the best week of my life.

Thanks for the gifts. They were amazing. Hope you had a good holiday and a good rest.

-Jessi

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Dear Jessi,

I’m so glad about Mrs. Spenser’s remission and I’m pleased if anything I did helped her get there. She seems like a strong, kind woman, so her health was probably hard-won. Give her all the credit for that.

I hope the rest of your life can be as good as that week. You deserve it.

Love,

Santa

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Santa,

It’s been a few of years since I wrote to you. Part of that is time. School is really demanding, and the pressure is on to do well and do a lot of extracurriculars to look good for college. My parents have paid more attention to me in the last year than they have my whole life, pushing me to do all this stuff to put on my resume. I managed to stun them into silence one night when I told them I wasn’t going to go to college, that I had a job lined up working in Santa’s workshop when I graduated.

That got me to thinking a lot about our letters when I was a kid. It got me wondering, who the hell are you? You’re not really Santa. Santa isn’t real. I love the idea of Santa, but I understand now how unrealistic it is. How childish it was to believe in you at all.

But I still have all these letters. I admit, writing to you got me through some hard times when I was younger, but who are you, really? I mean, what kind of weirdo writes to a lonely little girl pretending to be Santa?

-Jessica Stroman

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Dear Jessica,

My, you’ve grown up so much since you last wrote me. It makes me a little sad, but I suppose I’m lucky you believed in me for as long as you did. As you told me when you were twelve, most little girls have stopped believing by then.

As to who I am, well, I am whoever you want me to be. If it makes it easier for you to believe I am some weirdo, as you put it, then that is who I am. But know that you don’t have to believe in me in order for me to be real, and to be here for you. No matter what.

You’ll always be that special little girl who wrote to Santa and asked him to be her pen pal.

Yours always,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

Your last letter was surprisingly touching, and, as with the rest of my life, exactly what I needed at the time. I’m sorry I didn’t write back sooner to tell you that, but if you truly are who you say you are, you already knew.

I’m also sorry I’m writing again only when I really need someone.

Mrs. Spenser—Gina’s mom, if you remember her—died last week. Her cancer came back. She fought long and hard, but in the end, it finally got her.

I know Gina is heartbroken, but I feel like I’ve lost a mother, as well. Even though mine is still living.

Is there something wrong with me? There was finally someone in the world who loved me like a daughter, and she died.

I must be cursed.

I haven’t felt this lost and alone since that first time I wrote you. I don’t know what to do.

-Jessica

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Dearest Jessica,

My heart aches for you and Gina. I am so sorry for your loss. I know those words can’t possibly soothe your hurt, but know that I mean them with all my heart. The world lost an amazing woman, and all of us here at the North Pole mourn her passing.

But you don’t have to worry about being cursed, my special girl. I love you as if you were my own daughter, and I cannot die. That should be enough to break your curse. You will never be completely alone. I will always be here for you.

All my love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

Thank you so much for your last letter. It got me through the worst of my grief, knowing that you, whoever you are, were out there sending your love. Breaking my curse.

I wanted to write to thank you for that, and also to let you know that as much as I appreciated the offer of a job at the North Pole when I graduated, I think I actually did change my mind. I got accepted into an amazing college, and I think I found a job that will be hard work, but also rewarding. Maybe as rewarding as being Santa! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Love,

Jessica

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Dear Santa,

It’s weird that I’ve gotten into the habit of writing letters to you and not sending them. They’ve become something of a journal. It’s been interesting to look back over the years. I noticed you never wrote back to my last letter, or if you did, I never got it. Which is okay. As it turned out, I was okay without a reply.

I wanted to send this letter, though, because, as always, I need you again. Someone to talk to. More than just a journal. I need someone to talk back.

So, I graduated from college and got a job as a social worker. It’s a lot harder than I ever thought it would be, and there are some days I wish I could quit. But each time I make progress on a case, it makes it worth it.

I also met someone. Fell in love. Got married. But it turns out, I’m not very good at being married. We fight a lot. And I don’t know what to do. I love him so much, but I’m starting to think we’re not going to be able to make this work. As a social worker, I should know how to fix this, but I don’t. I can’t. I’ve tried.

And I feel lonely all over again.

-Jess

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Dear Jess,

I’m glad you sent your letter. I wish you the most heartfelt congrats on your graduation from college and your difficult but rewarding job.

As for your nuptials, it is entirely possible that you and your young husband are not meant to be together, and if that is the case, then perhaps nothing is broken and therefore cannot be fixed. But if at any time he made you happy, then I’d urge you not to give up just yet. Your parents didn’t give you the best relationship to model a marriage after, so that may be some of your struggle.

My best advice is to be patient and kind and present. As one who specializes in presents, let me tell you that being present is a gift. Open yourself up to him, and let him open up to you. That’s a lot of what has kept Mrs. Claus and me together through the years.

I hope you are able to find a way to make it work, or at the very least, find peace in your decision to go your separate ways.

All my love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

Your advice, as always, was amazing. Derek and I were able to work things out. Of course, just as things were starting to go well, and we decided we wanted to start a family, I found out I can’t have children.

Somehow we managed to stay together despite that. Derek has been so supportive and understanding. I feel horrible, though, because through it all, all I have been able to feel is relief. I have no idea how to be a mom. We’ve talked about fostering, but the idea terrifies me. I’d probably just mess up the poor kid the way Mom messed me up. They wouldn’t even have to put up with it, since they wouldn’t even be my blood.

Anyway. That’s me these days. I mostly wanted to write to thank you for always writing back. Well. Almost always.

-Jess

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Dear Jess,

I will always, always write back when you need me. And as I’ve said since you were a little girl, even if I don’t write back, I still read every word and send my love and support to you.

And you are just being silly. Of course you know how to be a mom. You have plenty of love to give a child, and that’s all you need. The rest is just details. And don’t forget Mrs. Spenser. She showed you how to love a child that wasn’t yours by blood.

You have so much love to share, my special girl, if you want to. Don’t be afraid. I believe that any child that could call you mother would be very lucky indeed.

Love,

Santa

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Dear Santa,

I think it’s been nearly two decades since I wrote to you. Thank you for always believing in me. I did what you said and fostered several children over the years. They were an amazing bunch, although it was just as hard if not harder than social work. Derek and I found it to be immensely rewarding, and it enriched our lives in more ways than I can count.

Truly, thank you for always believing in me. Being there for me. I hope you can be there for me one more time, even though it’s been a long, long while.

I’m dying, Santa. The big C. You remember Mrs. Spenser? Gina’s mom? I’m going through all the horrible things I watched her go through when I was a kid. It’s scary. I’m scared. Derek has been my rock, but I can tell he’s scared, too. I know firsthand how hard this is on him. I wished so many times that I could make this easier on him, but now all I can wish is for the end to hurry up, so we can both stop suffering.

But, selfishly, I don’t want to stop suffering. As much as the idea of more pain scares me, the idea of no pain scares me more. I’m terrified of dying, Santa. I’ve done my best to live a good life, but I know there have been times I’ve probably been on your naughty list. I can’t help but fear what awaits me after my time on this earth is done.

I’m asking Derek to mail this to you. I hope you get it. I hope I get to hear from you one more time, although part of me fears you won’t even remember me.

I guess that’s my biggest fear about dying. That once I’m gone, once Derek is gone, once my friends and foster kids are gone, nobody will remember that I existed at all. Oblivion.

Anyway. Thank you for giving me Christmas all my life. Even when I didn’t write you, I never forgot you or the words of wisdom you gave me. I was never lonely when I thought of you.

Forever yours,

Jessica R. Stroman Dunmar

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Dearest Jessica,

You have lived the most amazing life. Someone like you has no reason to fear death. And I’ll never forget you, my special girl. I am eternal, so your memory will never die.

Peace be with you, always.

Santa

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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