This year has been a weird one, to say the very least. It has simultaneously been both the longest and shortest year, where March feels like yesterday and fifty years ago at the same time. Thanksgiving totally blindsided me, and the fact that Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza are just around the corner is insane. Watching Dana Nachman’s new sweet-as-pie documentary, Dear Santa, finally put me in the holiday spirit, even though this year I likely won’t get to see my family or many of my friends due to COVID. The documentary made me forget how different Christmas will be this year and realize that the spirit of Christmas is more important this year than it ever has been before.
“…a sub-committee of the United States Postal Service that has been answering letters to Santa for over a hundred years.”
Dear Santa familiarizes us with “Operation Santa,” a sub-committee of the United States Postal Service that has been answering letters to Santa for over a hundred years. The documentary introduces us to many of Santa’s “elves” who have helped keep this program running. There are “lead elves” at many post offices who make sure the letters get out to “adopter elves,” who are people who pick out as many letters to Santa as they can and then buy the presents on the list. Oftentimes, these letters come from needy families who can’t afford to provide gifts to their children on their own.
All types of people work as adopter elves, from Giselle, an ironworker in Manhattan, to Kelsey and Val, a married couple in Detroit specializing in animal gift requests. There’s also Damion DiGrazia, who was a recipient of a gift from Operation Santa as a child. It meant so much to him that he passes on the favor every year as an adult. There is also P.S. 253 in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, an elementary school where teacher Mrs. Gellman leads a group of kids in picking out children and families to give gifts to for the holiday season. There are many more people in the documentary, and even more that weren’t, who help take on this seemingly impossible feat every year.
"…finally put me in the holiday spirit..."