When Marilyn Gauthier signed up to be Santa’s officially designated helper in Penticton, she soon found out just how big a job it is keeping up with the amount of letters the jolly old elf receives every year.
“I helped out last year, and I probably did 200 on my own. But I would say there is going to be thousands,” said Gauthier, one of the Canada Post employees who help Santa out each year. She has been helping for several years, first in Aldergrove, and continuing when she moved to Penticton to work for the post office here.
But this year, she’s the chief helper, taking over from Bob Otway. Though the numbers of letters surprised her, she said it is no burden.
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“I love Santa, I love Christmas, I love everything about Christmas,” said Gauthier. “When I saw that the kids were writing letters to Santa, I found out how I could be part of it.”
Gauthier said she likes to add little touches to the letters she helps Santa write, like stickers or candy canes on some, along with a personal note from Santa. Children that she knows might get a little bit more personal of a note, just to make sure they know Santa is watching.
“I want everyone to believe,” said Gauthier, who is impressed with the letters she reads for Santa.
“They want everyone to be happy. They want to know about Santa Claus. It’s not always I want, I want,” said Gauthier. Some letters though, tug at her heartstrings.
“I’ve had some that just want their parent to be healthy, that want their mom to be happy again,” said Gauthier. “Those ones, you can’t help go yes, I want to help you.”
Gauthier said she hasn’t had a letter that made her concerned, but there is a protocol to pass those letters up to others who ensure it is dealt with through appropriate channels.
Letters to Santa can be dropped off at any post office or Santa’s special mailbox at his castle in Cherry Lane Shopping Centre. Stamps aren’t needed, just address them to Santa Claus, The North Pole, postal code HOH OHO.
“They’ll be sent up to the North Pole. He answers every letter, so make sure they put a return address on,” said Gauthier, adding that officially designated helpers like herself lend a hand when the rush is on.
“He oversees everything, but sometimes it is a little bit too much for him,” she said. “Can you imagine how many letters he gets, and he is also getting the gifts ready for Christmas Eve. He’s got a lot on his plate.”
And Santa himself?
“He’s jolly, he’s big. He’s not as big as we imagine him, but he’s a big man,” said Gauthier. “His eyes, you can just see that mischievous side of him. I bet he has a lot of fun up there at the North Pole. I bet you plays with the reindeer and the elves, I can just see the mischief they get up to.”