As we were all feverishly typing the Dear Santa letters for the Santa Letter’s section that was published this past Friday, our circulation manager received a telephone call from the postmaster here in New Albany. He had called to advise us that in the future the postal service can no longer forward Santa letters addressed to the North Pole or just to Santa to the newspaper so we can share them with our readers.

     I have to admit to being stunned. My newspaper career has lasted over 30 years now and every one of those years I have been involved in typing letters to Santa written by believing children in every part of this great nation. Santa letters are a tradition for all newspapers and their presentation to readers is more of a public service than anything else. Check out the ads, put a pencil to it and you will find there’s very little being made there that will go much further than applying to the cost of the paper the Dear Santa section is printing on.

     But, obviously, the printing Santa letters goes a lot deeper than commercial considerations. A lot of us adults still kinda, sorta have a belief in the good things that happen at Christmas and most of us feel the center of the joy at this time of the year is surrounded by the children of our community. Their innocent belief come alive in Dear Santa sections in newspaper across America, having been typed in, as written by journalists of little or great renown, with great gusto and purpose.

     That’s why I was stunned at the news from the postal service and why I sincerely hope someone in that huge bureaucracy will back up, consider the events behind such a knee-jerk reaction and be a little human, just once.

     From what I can understand, the withholding and disposal of the Dear Santa letters has to do with a privacy issue. You know, that little pamphlet you get with all the small words advising you of your rights to privacy concerning your financial affairs and credit cards.

    Apparently, in New York City, New York, the postal service has allowed individuals to come by the post offices and pick up Dear Santa letters for whatever uses they might have for them. Over the decades of practicing this rather ill-advised “Operation Santa,” the postal service has allowed “volunteers” to have the letters in order to answer the letters and/or to provide Christmas gifts for children who are identified and found by return addresses. Doesn’t that seem like a dumb, risky program to you?

     This year, as you might have guessed, one of their “volunteers” reportedly turned out to be a pedophile with no Christmas intentions in mind. So, the United States Postal Service, operating in New York City, one of the most liberal and dangerous programs I’ve ever heard of, “Operation Santa,” decided to deny newspapers all over American the ability to contribute their time and space to printing your child’s letter to Santa.

     Other “Wannabe” Santas who showed up at the post offices in New York City were greeted with U.S.P.S. signs announcing, “The Santa letters will be handled by our own dedicated employees as has been the tradition in the past.” That means the dead-letter box, disposal of non-deliverable mail.

     We all know there are bad people out there who would do harm to you and I and our children if given the opportunity. At the same time, it hurts to know that due to poor judgement on the postal service’s part, a tradition far older than that one in New York City is going to be erased from the newspapers all over America.

     I plan to write to the Postmaster General of the United States to share my dismay and disapproval of this action with him. If you want our Dear Santa section to continue and care to join me in this protest, call the Gazette and I will share his address with you.

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