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Posts Tagged ‘wax seal’

he wants YOU to write a letter...

he wants YOU to write a letter...

The newspaper article was pretty clear: “Post Office Needs Help Answering Kids Letters to Santa”. This year in the bay area, there’s been a large influx of letters to the jolly guy, and the post office needs all hands on deck to help answer santa mail. The article quoted SF Postal District spokesman James Wigdel as saying that an average of 300 – 400 letters come in each year. So who gets to write all those responses?

this is the mail room at the North Pole...

this is the mail room at the North Pole...

We all know that writing a letter (no matter what time of year it is) can make a huge difference, whether sharing important news, telling a loved one “I was thinking of you”, or just wishing someone well. How to pass on this idea on to kids, that receiving a handwritten letter is a meaningful gesture?  Writing a letter to Santa via the USPS “Letters to Santa” program is a great way to start!

you are here...

you are here...

I arrived at SF’s main post office on a gloomy Tuesday – the last day to pick up letters. The premise of the program is straightforward: children write letters to Santa, you drop by the PO and choose a few, then write your “santa reply” by a certain date. There is some simple paperwork to fill out, and your reply has to be returned by a certain date, in order to ensure delivery by Christmas.

it's fun to watch left-handers write...

it's fun to watch left-handers write...

The scene at the PO was quiet, although a TV crew was asking questions and shooting footage (hi Mom!). There were only two other “santa’s helpers” flipping thru the letters from children…

decisions, decisions...

decisions, decisions...

It was hard to decide which letters to respond to – there was a variety of wants and needs. Some of the letters were intense (“I would like my cocker spaniel back”), others were flat out hilarious (“I want a Costco Pony” — huh?!).  I had no idea what many of the toys/items were that the kids had listed – I guess I need to hang out with my niece and nephew a bit more…

and I had some mail of my own to put in the box...

and I had some mail of my own to put in the box...

Arriving home, I developed a plan of attack; thank goodness the PO gave me four different “reply from Santa” templates to choose from, so I didn’t have to re-invent the wheel. I decided on a response that sounded festive (mention Rudolph and cookies), yet didn’t make any promises in regards to specific toys (“I’ll look in my bag for something special, just for you!”). Then I busted out the Torpedo typewriter. Clickety, clickety, clickety – eight replies went by pretty darn fast…

look at that Torpedo go!

look at that Torpedo go!

Onwards to the decoration! I wanted to create something that looked like an old school Victorian document, with sealing wax and faux illuminated lettering. As for Santa’s signature, what sort of typeface would it be? He seems like a “Middle Saxony Text” guy to me. Once that important decision was made, I got down to work…

DIY lightbox: my living room window!

DIY lightbox: my living room window!

Once the typing and tracing were complete, I headed for the colored pens and pencils. My illuminated lettering skills aren’t the best (not winning any calligraphy prizes any time soon), but I figured the person who receives my letter will get the main idea.

ho ho ho, indeed!

ho ho ho, indeed!

The icing on the cake? A wax seal with ribbon, of course! I was going for that “Santa Claus-meets-a-crazy-pirate” look. A bit of gold colored gouche on the flourishes added to that effect…

by royal order of S. Claus, North Pole...

by royal order of S. Claus, North Pole...

And then I put each letter into an envelope, said “goodbye”, and took the stack back to the post office.

That was that.

I’ve shared postal/mail art experiences with kids and teens and I always wonder what they think about writing letters. In this case, will they take one look at the santa letter I created and think “that’s weird”?  Or will it be the kind of thing that Mom or Dad put into a box and carry around from year to year? It’s a similar feeling when reaching out to a new mail art/Networking correspondent – will the two of  you have anything in common? What kind of person are they “in the mail” as compared to “in person”?  Of course, I’ll never meet the children that I send these santa letters to, but I still wonder what they’re like.  Will they grow up to enjoy mail just like me?

every day should be like Christmas...

every day should be like Christmas...

I can only hope so.

Don’t forget to put out cookies for the Big Guy. I hear he likes peanut butter chocolate chip…

–JH

12.16.10 edit: here are some snaps of the “santa-lopes”; a few among the RLD readership have been asking to see ’em. The always-generous-with-his-time-and-a-camera Von Span took a few photos before I returned the whole kaboodle to the PO…

 

two fronts, one back...

two fronts, one back...

 

closeup; each envelope was a wee bit different from the other...

closeup; each envelope was a wee bit different from the other...

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