Santa’s mailbox stands on Club Meadows in Lake Highlands

Everyone knows the only way to ensure you’ll get exactly what you want for Christmas is to contact jolly old Saint Nick himself. Think you can’t get your list to Kris Kringle before the big day? Think again.

Jim and Linda Shultz installed a “Letters to Santa” mailbox in their yard in 2018. The mailbox had been discarded by a neighbor who got a fancy new one that year, and the Shultzes incorporated it into their extensive Christmas decorations, which include more than 37,000 lights.

The project began slowly, as families who slowed to take in the scene noticed Santa’s mailbox and returned to deposit heartfelt letters. As word spread, dozens of letters began pouring in.

The Shultzes reply to every child, generating a letter on Santa stationery, hand-signed in red. The first year they enclosed Christmas stickers. Last year they added reindeer food.  This year the red envelope holds holiday pencils and erasers. Jim hand-delivers each one, with a hand-drawn stamp and a return address from the North Pole.

Most of the children’s requests are typical – dolls and pets and Star Wars figures and toys from The Incredibles movie. One little girl last year had a crush on a neighbor boy and asked Santa to fix them up. Lots of kids ask for items for their parents and siblings.

Along with gift requests, the kids have oodles of questions. How is Mrs. Claus? How are the reindeer and elves? Did you like my cookies last year? This year has been different, of course, with the pandemic getting a few mentions. One kid asked for a mini-mask for his Elf on the Shelf. A common phrase in letters is, “This year I have been good…mostly.”

“We get lots of pictures and drawings of families,” says Linda. “It’s just been fun to read them. One child wrote, ‘This year I learned to read and write, so I’m writing you my own letter.’ Another letter came from a witty teen who said, ‘Dear Santa, We’ve had some break-ins in the neighborhood, so be careful, we don’t want you to get arrested. And we know you’re not feeding those cookies to the reindeer. Take care of your diet. We don’t want you to get diabetes.’”

The project is time-consuming, but the Shultzes say nothing could replace the joy it brings.

“Children come dance on the sidewalk, and parents tell us how much their kids enjoy it. When parents say, ‘My child is coming home from school and he’ll be so excited to get his letter from Santa,’ it just warms your heart.”

The trickle of kids depositing mail usually begins just after school and increases about dusk. One recent pile of letters came from an entire elementary school class. Sometimes, the couple glances up at their Ring doorbell camera to see another child tiptoeing up to leave mail for Santa. It makes them smile.

“It’s just so cute to watch,” says Jim. “We’ll be turning 70 in 9 months, but we hope we can do this for another 15 years. The kids love it. They come every year to see what is different in the decorations. It’s where our heart is.”

If your child wants to send a letter to Santa, have him/her drop it into Santa’s mailbox at 8281 Club Meadows near Royal and Arborside. Be sure to have them include their return address, so Santa can return his reply. Merry Christmas.

The home of Jim and Linda Shultz, 8281 Club Meadows.