'Dear Santa: take me to heaven'

December 21, 1992

It is the time of year for children to wish. A little red wagon. A new basketball. A bicycle. A doll. Maybe even a "Totally Hair Barbie." These can be the stuff of magical dreams -- and the subjects of many a wish list mailed with spine-tingling anticipation to the North Pole.

No wonder then, that a precariously spelled, unstamped letter to Santa Claus dropped in a mailbox in a depressed timber community northwest of Seattle has drawn national attention and spurred a search for the writer, presumably a young boy named Thad. Some handwriting analysts have cast doubt on the letter's authenticity, but no one doubts that even if this Thad is never found, there are plenty other letters to Santa that can bear witness to young lives filled with more worries than young children should have to bear.

"Dear Santa Clas," Thad wrote, "Please help my mom and dad LTC this Christmas. My dad is not working anymore. We don't get many food now. My mom givs us the food she would eat. Please help my mom an dad."

For himself, Thad had a more poignant request: "I want to go to Heven too be with the angels. Can you bring me to Heven? My mom an dad woud not have too by things for me no more. That would make them happy. Please bring my dad a job an some food."

In case Santa needs directions, Thad added, "I live in my house like last year. We got candils. A city man took the lights a way. It looks like we don't live heer no more. We do. I will wate for you too come in my room.

"I will not slep. Wen you give my dad a job and some food too my mom I will go too Heven with you and the rain deer.

"Merry Chrismas too you Mrs Clas too the elfs too."

Too often, we are able to screen out the Thads of the world from the familiar scenes of our daily lives. But at this festive time of year, the time when a child's wishes are supposed to come true, there seems to be goodwill enough to widen our scope and to remember the increasing numbers of children who are caught up with their families in cycles of want and despair they are too small and powerless to understand or change. But not too small to suffer, physically and emotionally, from suppers with too little food on the table, cold nights with no heat, and dark rooms where candles are needed to provide light rather than seasonal cheer.

For Thad and, truth be told, for all of us, this season is a time to wish for the basics of life -- for food to eat, for light and warmth, for family and well-being, for life and health. And for the peace and prosperity on which all that depends.

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