PORT ARTHUR —
“Go to bed early and don’t forget to leave out the milk and cookies.”
Those simple instructions penned with colorful crayons, along with a signature “Ho, Ho, Ho,” are part of a special holiday letter Andreana Hall has written more times than she can count.
Each December, the Port Arthur mail carrier nimbly sets aside the letters children on her mail route have written to Jolly Ole’ St. Nick, and takes them home.
There, in the privacy of her living room, she lovingly answers each one and places it back in the mail box a few days later — long enough for the plain white envelope to have seemingly arrived all the way from the North Pole.
“If I was a kid, I would want a response from Santa,” Hall, 43, said.
Hall has been a mail carrier for the past 19 years, and each one of those years she’s doubled as Santa, writing children to let them know their holiday wishes were heard.
Over the years, she’s written well over 50, she said.
This year was slower than the norm, but there was one letter from 6-year-old Addison Drucker that stood out.
“In all the years, she’s the first one that has included a photo of herself,” Hall said.
Mailed from Port Acres, Addison’s letter in every other way was much like the others Hall, aka Santa, has seen through the years.
Addison asked for what most every little girl has for years — a Barbie, or Barbie accessory.
This year’s hot item, the Barbie doll house with an elevator, headlined Addison’s Christmas Wish List. The list continued with a request for a Hello Kitty chair, a baby monkey, a real phone, and a Rudolph toy — all this written on a Hello Kitty picture she colored and torn from her coloring book to brighten Santa’s day.
Most all of the children profess they have been good. Fact is, Hall can only remember one time when a youngster admitted being bad.
Santa’s response to the little boy was encouraging — urging him to not put himself down and to try and do better next year.
“What I say to them is always based on what is in their letter. But, I never say I am going to get anything they put on the list. I don’t want to put the parents on the spot,” Hall said.
The number of letters she has written each holiday season vary, depending on her route. Hall’s current route, in Port Acres, does not have as many children as some of mail routes she drove in previous years.
Still, Hall looks each day for a letter, hoping to see an envelope addressed to Santa at the North Pole that she can take home and mull over for a couple of days before answering.
“I actually get a little excited when I open the mailbox,” Hall said. “I guess that is my present from them.”
At home, Hall is careful to take the time needed to answer each letter properly.
“I read them, then set them aside, because I like to think about what I want to say,” Hall said.
She always uses crayons to write the children, and makes sure she says something personal about what they have written.
In Addison’s case, Hall thanked her for the Hello Kitty picture she colored, and assured her Santa’s elves were working hard making toys to bring to her house.
“I assume kids wrote from their hearts because they love Santa. And, to get a letter back makes them feel that much more special,” Hall said. “Answering those letters makes me feel like I am making a kid smile. I like kids, and my heart goes out to them.”