Local postal worker helps Santa write letters

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

As the wintry holiday season ushers in another magical moment in Lebanon with colorful lights, hot apple cider and, for many, presents under a Christmas tree, some of the city’s little kids will also be receiving a letter from Santa Claus.

Tina Brown, who works for the Lebanon Post Office, started a tradition nine years ago of writing letters on behalf of Santa to children who sent “him” a letter.

“I just thought it would be fun to do,” she said. “I found so much joy in doing it for the kids that it just kind of kept growing and getting better and more exciting.”

Letters from Lebanon that are addressed to Santa Claus without a stamp on them are handed to Brown for her special service. Letters with stamps on them are distributed to other services through the USPS nationwide.

Brown loves Christmas, a time of year that makes her feel “amazing.” She said it’s the joy of all the colors and decorations and “magic” that go into the season.

“Everything about it just makes me feel awesome,” she said.

The postal carrier has even inadvertently taken on the role of Mrs. Claus since last year. She was wearing a Santa dress at a public holiday event when kids mistook her for the jolly man’s wife. Brown officially adopted the role this year and, at the Holidays in the Park event on Dec. 2, kids walked up to her with outstretched arms for a hug.

The letter writing just makes the season that much better for her.

“All the joy I get hearing from the parents of how much the kids love this, I really can’t explain how awesome it is,” she said. “I just super enjoy it.”

Several little gifts are included each letter for a child or pet.

She estimates she gets between 50 to 100 letters a year. She responds to each one using colorful pens on decorative paper and envelopes, and sends little gifts such as snap bracelets, rings, pencils or spinning tops.

“I’m just really about the spirit and how it makes me feel to make these kids feel so special,” she said.

Some of the same kids write to Santa every year, and she even receives letters from pets. A “dog” might tell Santa they’ve been really good and haven’t bitten any letter carriers this year, or that they don’t want any sweaters but they love cookies.

Tina reads a letter from a young girl who wants a “feenix fox stafe.”

Some of the kids apologize to Santa for being a “jerk,” while other letters are “tear jerkers,” Brown said. Those are the ones who say they don’t want any presents, or they ask for help for their neighbor, or say their parents aren’t together anymore.

In her letters back to the kids, she shares stories about things that are happening at the North Pole: snowball fights, the sleigh getting washed, Rudolph turning 150 years old, Frosty the Snowman helping in the kitchen, elves keeping busy, or “Mrs. Claus’ cookies make my belly feel warm.”

This year she is also making sure to write “Remember to be good and spread kindness” in each of her letters because, she said, kindness is important.