Yes, children, there is a Santa Claus.

A couple of weeks ago, our youngest son wrote a brief letter to Santa Claus, outlining what he wanted most for Christmas. His list consists of a single toy, and he said that he wanted to send it to Santa's workshop for consideration this holiday. 

So we gave him an envelope and he simply addressed it to Santa Claus care of the North Pole. On a lark, I looked up the zip code of such a place, and found that the North Pole in Alaska is 99705.  So, our son sealed up the letter, took a stamp and insisted that he mail it himself.

Visions of the dead letter office at the US Post Office from Miracle on 34th Street (can you believe that movie was made sixty years ago?), we watched as he excitedly sent the letter on its way courtesy of a big blue metal mail box.

And he waited.

Then, yesterday, our son received a letter from Santa's Workshop at the North Pole. In Alaska.

Letters From Santa at the North Pole - Santa's Mailbag

We didn't pay Santa any extra incentive to have one of his elves send a letter back to out little boy. Turns out that this service has been going on almost as long as the venerable movie of 1947: the elves have been at this in Alaska since 1953. Who knew?

This was an example of great unexpected customer service. Our expectations was that we would not see a letter from Santa until he leaves his expected annual reply on Christmas Eve for our boys, after devouring Christmas cookies and mile left by our children for him next to the tree. It's like the bonus snail mail that kids receive from Disney's Toontown every month or so: for the kids, completely unexpected and a bonus to their on-line gaming fun, filled with posters, cards and newsletters.

You can read the complete history of the service here...

Santa’s Mailbag started in 1954, when the city of North Pole, Alaska, incorporated and the United States Postal Service began using the North Pole, Alaska postal cancellation. The idea for Santa’s Mailbag was formulated by six Air Traffic Controllers working at Eielson AFB, Alaska. The plan was to mail letters from Santa to the Children of men and women in the armed forces stationed overseas. Before Santa mailed out the first letter both military and civilian children were on Santa’s list.

During Christmas 1954, Santa’s Mailbag answered about 160 letters from children sent to Santa. Over the years, the number of letters received by Santa and his crew of elves has steadily grown.

The North Pole responds to tens of thousands of letters that they receive each year.  And it turns out that there are different ways to get your own answer from the North Pole, and it's not too late (as of today, Dec 15).  Check out the way to get letters from the workshop here, either a postmarked letters sent via U.S. Mail (which is neatly hand addressed and personalized... incredible), letters you can print out on Santa's stationary (Santa and his elves provide a dozen different letters available for download), or even pre-order letters for next Christmas.

To send an email letter to Santa, do so today by going to http://www.santasmailbag.org/writetosanta/.

Santa reports on the site that this year he expects to see as many as 150,000 letters, better than the alternative of all that mail sitting dead lettered in a New York postal warehouse waiting for a ruling on the validity of Santa's identity. Santa encourages parents to order a letter at http://www.santasmailbag.org, and donations per letter are requested. The site says that "these funds, along with contributions from those who support our effort, go help thousands of children receive a letter from Santa."

Sounds like a good investment. 

Have a good weekend.