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Dear Santa: Special Letters to the North Pole

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Lucy and Samantha Bear

Lucy Bear, age 4, likes to help her mom, Samantha, collect Dear Santa letters from the Santa Express Mailbox in their front yard. 

There’s a new holiday decoration in the Bear family’s yard. It appears to be your standard mailbox mounted on a post by the front curb, but if you look a little closer, you will notice the words “Santa Express Mailbox” written on it. And if you stand as still as you can, you just might hear the tiniest jingle bell ring of an elf’s shoe or feel the North Pole breeze tickle your cheek. 

Like so many, the Bear family - Samantha, Colin, Lucy (4) and Henry (1), - have experienced a challenging year including a furlough and battling Covid. Hardest of all was that Colin’s grandfather, Jack Thompson, passed away. Colin had a special relationship with Jack. In addition to being a wonderful grandpa, he played basketful at the University of Houston and enhanced the lives of many as a basketball coach for St. Thomas High School and Trafton Academy.

Samantha shared that it’s been difficult trying to explain to four-year-old Lucy why we have to wear masks and air hug, and they’ve had to recently have the tough discussion about what happens when someone passes away. So, she really wanted to do something to make kids feel warm and filled with Christmas spirit this year. 

The Santa Express mailbox

The Santa Express mailbox is open until December 20 to accept letters from Santa.

“Kids get so much instant gratification in today’s world that it can sometimes spoil the fun,” Samantha said. “If anything good can come out of this pandemic, let it be the imagination of our most innocent minds. Therefore, we wanted to help kids go back to the basics and write letters to Santa.” Samantha had the perfect mailbox for the job.

The mailbox in the Bears’ front yard started out as a joke gift to Colin’s grandfather. The family teased Jack about receiving an abundance of Christmas catalogs every year so Samantha gave him a larger mailbox that could hold all of them. Before Jack’s house sold last month, Samantha moved the mailbox over to her family’s house. On a mission to go all out for the holidays, she had magical plans for it. 

Samantha painted it bright red, added some white snowflakes and wrote Santa Mail on the front. Once set up for business, the word spread and the Dear Santa letters started to arrive.

Santa responds to every child’s letter with a personal note on custom Santa stationery. Santa asks everyone to please include their return address. Parents are welcome to add a message in the envelope or private message Samantha with specific details that Santa could consider mentioning. 

Paige Selwyn

Paige Selwyn (age 3) could not believe Santa wrote a letter in return.

“It melts my heart when I get a little note from the mother explaining or translating their kid’s letter. They add in that Santa could help by telling the kids to help keep the house clean for showings before they move, or to keep working hard in virtual learning, and to work on getting along with their sibling.” 

Santa has been getting a lot of letters requesting dolls, cars, Legos, and games. The letters that really make Samantha smile are the ones where kids are pleading their case on why they need such a toy. They write out how they do what they are told or they go to sleep at bedtime. 

Samantha’s daughter, Lucy, likes to help her mom check the mailbox for letters. Samantha said, “I’ve told Lucy that I’ve made a deal with Santa to help collect some letters. She is telling people it’s her mommy’s job. At times I pretend to be on the phone with Santa discussing Santa mail. She is very concerned about who is on the naughty list.” 

Letters to Santa

This letter writer was nice enough to tell Santa he would give him a pies (piece) of choclite (chocolate).

“It has truly been a blast,” Samantha said, smiling. “Kids have offered their advent chocolate, asked about Santa’s favorite dog and they all want to know what their elf on the shelf has been saying.”    

Lisa Carr and her daughters recently dropped off their letters to Santa. 

“This is our first Christmas not to go see Santa in person, which has been a little rough to process in our house. I think it’s wonderful what Samantha is doing and appreciate her going above and beyond for our sweet kiddos.”

The Santa Express mailbox

The Bear family’s yard is lit up for Christmas. The Santa Express mailbox is decorated with lights so you can even see it in the dark!

Samantha wraps it up like a beautiful Christmas bow: “There is just something so raw to a Santa letter that hits home and makes us all believe. I am a big believer that having something to look forward to can help bring so much happiness into our lives.”

We’re big believers that Samantha and her family have already brought much happiness into the lives of local Santa fans and that a special someone is thrilled that instead of catalogues, his mailbox is now full of Santa magic. 

All are invited to leave Santa a letter by Sunday, Dec. 20 so he has time to write back. The Bear family’s Santa Mailbox can be found on the 9000 block of Bintliff. 

Connecting with Santa before Christmas: 
Here are some ideas for how to connect with Santa before Christmas, including in-person and virtual events around town. 

Holiday treats to those who deliver letters to Santa
Consider giving holiday thanks to postal carriers and delivery people to let them know you appreciate their hard work delivering letters and gifts. Kids can help leave out drinks, snacks or thank-you notes. Find a fun Mailman Coloring Sheet here.

Operation Santa
The United States Postal System’s Operation Santa coordinates volunteers buying presents requested in hundreds of thousands of letters written to Santa. This is the first year the program has been virtual. Available letters are on the website to read and be adopted. Note: The recently-released Dear Santa highlights the massive endeavor of USPS’s Operation Santa, which has made it possible for the public to safely adopt Santa letters for 108 years.

Santa’s Magi-sphere at Sugar Land Town Square 
Santa uses contactless elf technology to be beamed in real-time to the Magi-Sphere, a magical holographic snow globe. It’s free and located in the outdoor plaza of Sugar Land Town Square (2711 Plaza Dr., Sugar Land, TX 77479). schedule a time through Dec. 24 or walk right up to check Santa’s availability.  

Bass Pro Shop Santa’s Wonderland
Schedule a time to visit (locations in Pearland, League City, Katy) and receive a free photo through Dec. 24. Santa is being so safe to not spread germs that his nickname this year is “Contactless Claus.” 

Macy’s Santaland
Macy's Santa visits, a 160-year tradition, is virtual this year. "Santaland At Home," is a free personalized online experience for kids and families to explore and take a selfie with Santa thru Dec. 24.

NORAD Tracks Santa 
Every December since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has revealed Santa’s location as he makes his rounds to drop off gifts on Christmas Eve. Enjoy games and videos all month long. 

Dial My Calls
Schedule a date and time for your child to receive a free personalized call from the Big Jolly Guy in Red. 

Google Santa Tracker
Have fun playing interactive activities with Santa’s Elves

SantaCalling
Schedule a free video Zoom call with Santa thru Dec. 23.  You’ll get a video of your Santa. If Santa’s schedule looks booked, don’t worry - more time slots open daily at 11 a.m. 

Editor’s note: Find more holiday happenings and where to spot Santa around town.

  • Santa Express Mailbox

    Jewel Simmons (2), Diana Simmons (3), Sharon Simmons (9) and Russell Simmons (6) were excited to visit the Santa Express Mailbox.  

  • The Santa Express Mail mailbox

    All are welcome to drop a letter in The Santa Express Mail mailbox until December 20. 

  • Letters to Santa

    This letter writer had good manners using the word plese (please) and is really good at drawing stars.

  • Santa Express mailbox

    Diana intently watches her taller sister, Sharon, put their family’s letters into the Santa Express mailbox. 

  • Santa Express mailbox

    Special letters containing Christmas wish lists ready to be delivered to Santa. 

  • Santa Express mailbox

    Jewel had fun getting a boost from her older sister, Sharon.

  • Paige Selwyn (age 3) wrote her first letter to Santa this year and dropped it in the Santa Express Mailbox in the Bear family's yard.

  • Santa Express Mailbox
  • The Santa Express Mail mailbox
  • Letters to Santa
  • Santa Express mailbox
  • Santa Express mailbox
  • Santa Express mailbox

Santa Express Mailbox

Jewel Simmons (2), Diana Simmons (3), Sharon Simmons (9) and Russell Simmons (6) were excited to visit the Santa Express Mailbox.  

The Santa Express Mail mailbox

All are welcome to drop a letter in The Santa Express Mail mailbox until December 20. 

Letters to Santa

This letter writer had good manners using the word plese (please) and is really good at drawing stars.

Santa Express mailbox

Diana intently watches her taller sister, Sharon, put their family’s letters into the Santa Express mailbox. 

Santa Express mailbox

Special letters containing Christmas wish lists ready to be delivered to Santa. 

Santa Express mailbox

Jewel had fun getting a boost from her older sister, Sharon.

Paige Selwyn (age 3) wrote her first letter to Santa this year and dropped it in the Santa Express Mailbox in the Bear family's yard.

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