As a child, I remember as a child, the magic that Christmas seemed to bring. How the air seemed lighter, lights appeared much brighter, the general attitude around town seemed more pleasant. – Brian E. Gandy, County Historian
As a child, I remember as a child, the magic that Christmas seemed to bring. How the air seemed lighter, lights appeared much brighter, the general attitude around town seemed more pleasant. People also and people seemed to be more understanding of others. I remember that with the coming of cooler nights and shorter days, I generally started thinking about what I wanted for Christmas. I remember using the phrase “well Santa Claus can bring it.” I would repeat that phrase at the slightest urging of my wants.
As a child, I understood the cycle all too well. I would voice my wants, impatiently wait on Christmas to arrive and if I could be good, Santa would bring me the toys I had been longing for.
A major part of this magical cycle of Santa and toys was the letters that I wrote to Santa. I
remember in grade school, it seemed that each year we were asked to write Santa a letter letting him know our wants. Often you would find your letter reprinted in the newspaper that year and I remember the excitement that seemed to rush over me. At that young age, it just seemed logical that the more my wants were known, the greater were my chances of getting what I wanted on Christmas.
Today, as an adult, my views have changed greatly. I still believe in the magic of Santa and Christmas is still a season that is filled with all that is wonderful. Today I don’t ask for toys and games, but rather for the health of my family, friends and those that are special to me. I ask for second chances for those that need them. For quiet evening and restful nights. For more smiles, happy hearts enjoying less stress and more peace. Today my Christmas list reflects my life experiences and the longings I have to see us live better, and be the kind of people that treat each other better than we treat ourselves.
I still enjoy reading the “Letters to Santa.” They connect me to a part of my life when the burdens of responsibility were unknown. Life seemed so simple and uncomplicated and something as simple as a Christmas toy seemed to magically appear just because I wanted it. We all have been children and have experienced the magic of things like Santa, Christmas Magic and Holiday Cheer. These experiences help us build those qualities that, years later, help us to be CHRISTMAS for others. Life has taught me that the cycle is not like I remember from my childhood – want, impatiently wait, get and enjoy. I understand that the cycle of Christmas is to feel, to be humble, to give and, to celebrate.
In Darlington County for more than a half-century this season has been marked by the popular Christmas custom of publishing “Letters to Santa.” The Darlington County Historical Commission has an extensive collection of such letters written during the Christmas seasons from 1910 through present day. These letters allow us to see the innocence of childhood in its purest form. Their undertones can express a range of emotions from sadness to hilarity. Notes sent to Santa are an unlikely lens through which to understand the past – offering a peek into the worries, desires and quirks of the times in which they were written. They serve as a “snapshot in time” representing that moment in a child’s life where hope, faith and the promise of the Christmas season, come together as the crescendo of anticipation.
Enjoy these snapshots from the past:
December 21, 1922
I love you. Please bring me a “Mama Doll” just like the old one, and some clothes, a little trunk, a bath rug, tub, toilet and lavatory, a sewing machine and some scissors and stocking full of good things to eat.
Good bye, Santa, from Lillian McFall
December 13, 1928
Please bring me a pair of slippers, gloves and a vanity case. I am a good little girl and go to school every day.
Willie Mae Benson
Dear Santa Claus,
I am a little boy eight years old. I want you to bring me an air rifle and all kinds of fireworks, fruit and nuts.
Your friend, Pressly Chaplin
December 5, 1932
Gee, but isn’t it funny how Christmas comes so quickly and finds me wanting so many things? I want a knife, Aeroplane, toy bus and a wagon to pull my girl in. I have been awful good and can still eat candy. I Christmas does come on Sunday and I can’t shoot firecrakers I can shoot them Monday. Wishing you a merry Christmas.
Love, Cleveland Folsom
December 17, 1936
I am a little girl nine years old and in the fourth grade. I go to Indian Branch school. I want you to bring me a doll, ball, blackboard, lumber jacket and piano. Don’t forget my little sister.
Your friend, Theo Davis
December 21, 1944
If you have a Magic Set, please bring me one. I would like some nuts and an orange. I wish you a Merry Christmas.
Your friend, Fitz Lee Coker
I am a little boy three years old. My Daddy is in the Navy. I am not going to ask for very much. I want you to bring me a truck, a sailor outfit, and a train. Be good to all of the little boys and girls all over the world. I will be a good little boy and be looking for you.
Lots of love, James Leonard Harrell
I know there is a war going on and I also know that some soldiers will not be home for this Christmas. I do not want very much. All I want is a bow and some arrows. I do not want anything else but the Christmas presents that I get. I will have some fruit cake on the living room table. I wish you a merry Christmas.
Your friend, George Edward McGee
December 15, 1955
I am 8 years old and in the third grade. I would like to have a Tiny tears doll, nurse set and a Betty Croket cook set.
I am nine years old. I am in the fourth grade and I go to the at West Carolina. I have two sisters. I want for Christmas this list of things. I want a bicycle, a doll, a dollhouse, some games, some records and some clothes.
December 17, 1959
My name is Sandy Michael Griggs. I live on Locust Street. I am 5 years old. Please bring me some guns and holsters, race car, pop guns, a popeye doll, candy, nuts, fruit and lots of balloons.
Love, Sandy Griggs
My name is Doyle O’Neal and I have been a good boy. I am four years old and would like you to bring me a crane. I also want a pair of boots, a tractor and a trailer and some fruit. If you bring me all of these things, I will be a very good boy from this Christmas on.
With Love, Doyle O’Neal Route 3, Hartsville
I am a little boy in the third grade. My teacher’s name is Mrs. Rudisell and I am eight years old. Will you bring me a bebe gun and my daddy is going to buy my brother and sister a pony.
Phelix Carrigan Byrd
I carry your picture everywhere I go and think you are so pretty. This year I am three years old and getting to be a big girl. I want you to please bring a bicycle and a dy-dee doll like the one at Belk’s. Remember my mother and daddy and be good to everybody, especially my uncle Bob who lives in Robbins, N.D.
I love you Santa, Reba Best
We have asked our mother to write you and ask you to please don’t forget other little boys and girls this year. And please bring us a train together and Wilber wants a Doctor’s Kit and David wants a horn. We have been good little boys. We are twins. We will be six years old on March 10th. Thank you for everything.
Love, Wilber & David Vaughan