Dear Santa:

The other day I strolled into the post office on my annual mission, to mail out my Christmas cards. You know, that old tradition that’s hanging on by a tinsel-thin thread in the digital era. Upon entering, what to my wondering eyes should I see, but a grand, holiday-themed mailbox, adorned with all the glitz and glamour of Santa’s workshop. A boldly coloured flag waved proudly, declaring, “North Pole.”

Now, call me skeptical, but the last time I checked, the North Pole wasn’t a suburban neighbourhood with a local post office. Furthermore, I couldn’t imagine Santa having the time, especially in December, to personally pick up his mail. Try as I might, I couldn’t picture him, rolling in with his sleigh, parallel parking in front of the post office, standing in line, and double-checking his Naughty and Nice list at the counter. It just didn’t seem plausible.

In this age of tech-savvy tots, I couldn’t help but ponder the fate of the classic handwritten letter. Can today’s children even wield a pen, or should I say, print legibly on paper? They are more likely to navigate cyberspace, than to brave the lines at the post office. I could more accurately see them, probably with better typing skills than most adults, sitting at a computer, crafting an email straight to the big guy’s inbox. No stamps, no postal service delays—just a swift click of the ‘send’ button.

These changing times also mean major adjustments for Santa’s operation. I smiled as my imagination kicked into high gear. There was Santa’s high-tech workshop, with elves sporting elf-sized laptops and an over flowing inbox demanding their attention. I wondered what was included in Santa’s email. Of course, there would be the millions of wish lists from children, a few outrageous requests, a bit of junk mail and probably the occasional letter from a disgruntled elf who thinks he’s working too many overtime shifts. There might even be a few scam letters from the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy trying to muscle in on Santa’s action. After all, using the internet does pose some risks. Regardless of whether the letters are paper or digital, what do children ask for Christmas?

As I stood there, nostalgia swept over me, recalling the simple Christmas wishes of my own childhood. We could ask for only one gift and maybe suggest a backup item in case Santa didn’t have time to create our first choice. It was a very magical time. Back in the 1950s, gender roles were strictly enforced, and even gift-giving had its own set of rules. For little girls, it was all about preparing them for their future maternal duties. You know, dolls for practice, miniature kitchens to hone those cooking skills, and a plastic vacuum cleaner because a girl should start learning how to clean at an early age. Thank God, that way of thinking has bit the dust!

And then there were the boys. They had the world at their fingertips. As long as it wasn’t remotely “girly,” they were golden. Toy trucks, action figures, and chemistry sets that didn’t come with an Easy-Bake Oven attachment – the possibilities were endless.

But times have indeed changed, and so have the requests. Modern wish lists now sound like a tech-savvy CEO’s shopping list: “Dear Santa, this year, I’d like an ergonomic office chair and a cell phone and for good measure, I need a new computer.”

Yet amidst the evolution of wishes, one thing remains constant – the joy of sending that letter, whether it’s in paper or digital form, whether it’s asking for a toy truck or a tax deduction, – what is important, is the size of the ho-ho-hope in every child’s heart.