At the end of the 19th century, the illustrator Thomas Nast popularized our current version of Santa Claus: a fat, jolly man with a white beard and a red suit who lives at the North Pole. Nast’s cartoons in publications like Harper’s Weekly also helped spread the idea of sending St. Nick mail. By the late 1870s, American children had begun mailing their Christmas wish lists to Santa, but the Post Office considered these letters undeliverable. Around this time, newspapers started prompting children to send wish lists to them, which would then be published so that Santa (and parents, and philanthropists looking to offer gifts to needy children) could read the letters all in one place. We’ve collected 23 funny historical letters from children to Santa Claus, as printed in newspapers across the U.S.
1. CONRAD FROM NEBRASKA (1896)
Conrad tries to mask his violent tendencies by interspersing the weapons between non-threatening gifts, but he shows his hand with that threat at the end.
2. CLIFFORD FROM NEBRASKA (1896)
Clifford sounds ... intense.
3. MARIE FROM NEBRASKA (1896)
“As I can not have it I will not ask for it, but just in case, I will mention it…”
4. LYNWOOD FROM VIRGINIA (1903)
“I smashed everything you sent me last year. I won’t tell you what I want this year, but you better not mess up.”
5. PAUL FROM VIRGINIA (1903)
This 4-year-old is very concerned about his infant brother’s lack of teeth. Since the local doctor has proved useless to rectify the situation, Paul hopes Santa might be able to lend a hand. He is magical, after all.
6. HARRY FROM MONTANA (1903)
Who knew keeping your feet dry was such an important part of staying off the Naughty List?
7. RAYMOND FROM WEST VIRGINIA (1907)
Clarence doesn’t sound very nice.
8. PERCY FROM WEST VIRGINIA (1907)
Poor Opal and Mildred. They’re just girls. Do girls even have preferences?
9. VIRGINIA FROM MISSOURI (1907)
Virginia understands that sometimes Santa needs to delegate.
10. ROBERT FROM TENNESSEE (1913)
Old people get lonely.
11. WILLIE FROM FLORIDA (1915)
Sure, an axe sounds like an age-appropriate gift for a 5-year-old.
12. ELEANOR FROM FLORIDA (1915)
“Bring both if possible.”
13. UNSIGNED LETTER FROM FLORIDA (1913)
This transplant from Maine would really like a basketball, but he’s doesn’t quite believe that a Santa Claus can exist in Florida, where there isn’t even any snow.
14. WALTER FROM FLORIDA (1915)
Good choice not to act a pig, Walter.
15. MERLA FROM FLORIDA (1915)
Now listen good, Santa: Merla will not be ignored!
16. ROY FROM FLORIDA (1915)
A doll dressed in a cowboy suit could not be called Raymond. A lack of sailor suit is a dealbreaker.
17. MAXWELL FROM FLORIDA
Ways to improve your chances of getting a pony from Santa, according to Maxwell Hudson: 1. Admit right off it’s expensive. 2. Say you will use it to take your sisters to school. 3. Promise to be grateful for anything Santa brings, so as not to seem greedy. 4. Make yourself seem extra kind-hearted (and thus deserving of a pony) by showing concern for your fatherless neighbors. Did it work? We will never know.
18. MOXIE FROM TENNESSEE (1916)
Perhaps a kid known for being mean shouldn’t be given a firearm.
19. DICK FROM SOUTH CAROLINA (1916)
No, Santa certainly wouldn’t want to get “fastened in” the chimney.
20. JOHN FROM NEW MEXICO (1918)
World War I devastated Western Europe, decimating a generation of young men—and apparently killing the French Santa Claus.
21. MARY FROM NEW MEXICO (1922)
Come on, Mary, Santa’s not a mindreader.
22. JEWEL FROM NEW MEXICO (1922)
No apology for the door-slamming incident. That might have helped your cause, Jewel.
23. R.B. FROM NEW MEXICO (1922)
R.B. is very thoughtful to provide such specific instructions; otherwise, Santa might get confused.