Disclosure: With 6th graders, I’m not terribly reserved or inclined to keep the spirit of Santa alive. Therefore, at some point this year, I let it be known that there was no Santa. Now, it’s not like I walked in on a Monday and thought, “Right, it’s Monday! I think I’ll suck the joy out of any child naive enough to still believe in Santa. In fact, I’ll lead with there is no Santa.” This act, so minor that I have no recollection of it, did indeed ruin a child’s image of Santa leaving that child’s mother FURIOUS with me. Sigh… I should have known given that this child still plays with dolls/action figures.
So… I’ve been catching flack for the longest time on this. I’ve even had other teachers, not so nicely actually, spit at me that I should stay away from their students. And, “I’m Jewish and I still want my students to believe in Santa.” Sigh. There’s no winning, and thankfully I’m a lot more mellow; otherwise an ungracious entitled little brat would have gotten more than my pointing out that THIS is how SHE is controlling her class. I didn’t add, “And quite frankly, IT’S NOT WORKING.” Although I gave it good thought.
Therefore, it IS rather ironic that my service learning class was asked to respond to letters written to Santa from first graders. Because I am not actually a heartless soul, nor do I deliberately ruin the lives of children (my own child doesn’t believe in Santa and we always reminded him not to “ruin” the spirit for other children), I took on the task with vigor.
Now, the interesting thing about answering letters is the delicate nature of the process. My “elves” couldn’t promise anything, nor could they deny anything. In fact, they had to answer the letters appropriately without being too… well, anything. We started by reviewing letters and my giving advice on how to handle tricky questions. For example, one girl wanted Justin Beiber. The “elf” was incredibly perplexed as to HOW to let the child down without removing all joy. We settled on the idea that “elves” cannot guarantee the delivery of people or animals (to take care of the kids who wanted pets for Christmas). The “elf” who handled that particular letter conveyed that we cannot deprive the world of Justin Beiber by letting him go to one person only.
My “elves” handled the task of writing unique and caring letters from Santa’s helpers. They were well-crafted, pretty (they did their best to color nicely), and caring. Needless to say, I was very proud of my “elves”. They handled their task well. Perhaps they will even redeem me for my careless actions.