Nowadays, kids have the advancement of technology to talk to Santa on Christmas Eve via phone or text. Anxious kids can speak to Santa on a recording that allows them to put in specific present requests. They even have the capability of tracking him on a map, following his every move as the man in red travels from state to state dropping off gifts for good boys and girls. Kids today rarely correspond via snail mail as almost everything is done via computer.
But, 100 years ago communication was far different than it is today. Peter Mattaliano can attest to this statement. Mattaliano was not only surprised but quite touched by a surprise that he found when renovating his fire place in his New York home. The screen writer and acting coach enlisted his brother to help with his renovation project and soon they were standing in a pile of rubble. In the rubble the two men found old letters written to Santa Clause by a brother and sister and dated over 100 years ago.
The letters were quite eligible given the age and location of them, and Mattaliano was able to determine the siblings were named Mary and Alfred McGann and they were dated in 1905 and 1907. But the real magic in the discovery, is the words that Mary wrote in her letter. Mary, who had only been nine years old at the time, asked Santa to remember the poor children and showed obvious concern over the welfare of others. She even told Santa to bring her younger brother a gift that he thinks would be fitting for him, even if Santa couldn’t afford the wagon that her brother Alfred had asked for. Alfred had also asked for a toy drum. And instead of putting in a specific request for herself, Mary asks Santa to bring her whatever he thinks is best.
Mary addressed her letter to “Reindeerland,” and even took the time to draw a reindeer in the upper right corner, designating the stamp location. While the paper had fire and water stains, Mattaliano was still able to decipher the letters because they had been written on such durable, thick paper.
Mattaliano was so touched by the letters that he framed them and now displays them on the wall above his mantel. He also has two Christmas ornaments hanging from the framed letters. One is a little girl wearing a red dress and holding a small doll and the other is a tiny toy wagon. Mattaliano keeps them up all year round to honor the childrens’ wishes from so long ago.
Because Alfred had signed his last name on the letter, Mattaliano was able to trace the family’s history. He had discovered that the father of the children had died in 1904, which explains Mary’s words about Santa not being able to afford gifts. But, the spirit of Christmas managed to live on in the little girl. When Mattaliano had been tracing the family history, he learned that Mary and Alfred had passed away, but their innocent childhood dreams and wishes will always live on in Mattaliano’s home and heart.