Letters to Santa go high-tech

Christmas wish lists have evolved over the years, with children using modern technology to pass their gift ideas onto St. Nick

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Not long ago, children had two options to let Santa Claus know what they wanted for Christmas: wait in the long line at the mall to see him in person, or write a letter.

Now, they’re getting in touch with the jolly old elf online. St. Nick is available by text, email, Twitter or Facebook, so why would a tech-savvy kid bother with snail mail?

For example, emailsanta.com in Calgary, Canada, allows kids to write directly to Santa, check to see if they are on the naughty or nice list, watch goings-on at the North Pole via a 24/7 webcam, and follow his tweets at @KringleClaus. Recent tweets read, “An elf told me about a little boy in Washington who isn’t brushing his teeth,” and “I’m so glad that little boy listened to his Mom. He’s going on the nice list!”

Kids get an instant reply from Santa (or, as website creator Alan Kerr says, faster than reindeer fly). Kerr said emailsanta.com has gotten PowerPoint presentations, videos, photos and scanned handmade cards full of pictures of toys clipped from advertisements.

“Even the youngest kids are incredibly creative and comfortable using computers and the Internet,” said Kerr.

Kerr started the website in 1997 during a Canadian postal strike that left his niece and nephews disappointed that they had no way to get their letters delivered to Santa Claus. He expected a handful of messages, but ended up with 100,000 in a few weeks. This year he expects to handle more than 1 million emails for Santa – more than Canada Post.

There are other ways to communicate with Kris Kringle.

Northpole.com. lets children send letters or postcards to Santa, and St. Nick will send a response within three days. Northpole.com’s website also features dozens of activities and games for children and families, all for free.

Santa also accepts letters at Claus.com.

For those who want access to Santa from their smart phones, consider texting sites like TextSanta.net.

Parents purchase a text package, starting at $4.79 and in the weeks leading up to Christmas, their child will receive personalized text messages from Santa. For each order, $1 is donated to The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation for scholarships and educational support for military children who have lost a parent. TextSanta.net Chief Executive Officer T.J. Kirgin Jr., who also heads up an advertising firm in St. Louis, said the idea also is to be greener, encouraging children not to generate thousands and thousands of paper letters.

The 3-year-old texting company expects to send out close to 100,000 texts this year.

Children who prefer to talk directly to Santa Claus can call Santa (or email him) on the website Santa Hotline.

They may be part of the digital age, but many children stick to the traditional way of writing to Santa, with a letter addressed to him at the North Pole.

Michael Johnson, postmaster at the Washington Post Office, said the his post office fields about 250 to 300 letters addressed to Santa Claus each Christmas season and hasn’t noticed a drop-off.

“The amount of letters we get still seems to be the same to me. They just ask for more high-tech presents,” said Johnson, who assured a reporter that the letters are quickly forwarded to St. Nick.

Jonathan Pernisek, 9, of North Strabane Township, still writes to Santa and Mrs. Claus using a pencil and paper. Topping his Christmas list this year are the video games Madden 25 and NHL 14, and a trampoline with a net. Jonathan’s confident he’s on the nice list, and he and his twin brother, Brandon, plan to leave out chocolate chip cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve.

“We still do it the old-fashioned way,” said the twins’ mother, Jennifer. “They’re not really concerened about (being on the naughty list), but we do tell them we have a toll-free line to Santa.”

Regardless of how they deliver their Christmas lists to Santa, children can track every step of Santa’s route on Christmas Eve, courtesy of the NORAD Santa Tracker, which lets them know when the big red guy is getting near them.

Santa is still jolly old St. Nick, but these days, even St. Nick has to go high-tech.

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