The Associated Press (November 19, 2009)
"Starry-eyed children writing letters to the jolly man at the North Pole this holiday season likely won't get a response from Santa Claus or his helpers.
"The U.S. Postal Service is dropping a popular national program begun in 1954 in the small Alaska town of North Pole, where volunteers open and respond to thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. Replies come with North Pole postmarks...."
The Santa letters program is a victim of the 'one bad apple spoils the whole barrel' principle.
"...Last year, a postal worker in Maryland recognized an Operation Santa volunteer there as a registered sex offender. The postal worker interceded before the individual could answer a child's letter, but the Postal Service viewed the episode as a big enough scare to tighten rules in such programs nationwide.
"People in North Pole are incensed by the change, likening the Postal Service to the Grinch trying to steal Christmas.
"People in North Pole are incensed by the change, likening the Postal Service to the Grinch trying to steal Christmas. The letter program is a revered holiday tradition in North Pole...."
"...North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson agreed caution is necessary to protect children. But he's outraged North Pole's program should be affected by a sex offender's actions on the East Coast — and he thinks it's wrong that locals just learned of the change.
" 'It's Grinchlike that the Postal Service never informed all the little elves before the fact,' he said. 'They've been working on this for how long?'..."
I'm with North Pole's mayor on this. Yes, it's important - necessary - to protect children.
On the other hand, maybe the answer isn't to tell volunteers that they can't send letters "from Santa," because they might be sex offenders.
Excuse Me, The Lemming is Going to RantI realize that it may involves scrapping decades of dubious advances, but I think it's time to consider fixing a system that isn't delivering on its promise of a kinder, groovier world.
I'm tired of reading that recurring news item: the one about the repeat offender who decided to stop cooperating with the parole board. The name of the victim(s), the offender, and the location are different each time - but the pattern is all too familiar. It isn't just the judicial system, I think.
Values-free education, and generations of parents who were told - and sometimes believed - that they shouldn't tell their children about what the parents had discovered that worked, and what didn't.
As one dad said, "I did drugs, so I don't think I've got the right to tell my kids not to." That would be like me saying, "I had a serious drinking problem, so I don't think I should tell my kids that alcohol abuse can be a problem." One of the stronger arguments a parent could make, when kids come back with, "how would you know?" - is "I did it, and it wasn't a good idea."
Embarrassing? Yes. It's awkward to admit to something less than 100% perfection. But I haven't seen evidence that parenting is supposed to be easy.
That was close - this post almost went off on a tangent. Getting back on topic:
I'm genuinely sorry that the entire 'Santa letters' program had to be scrapped.
And no, this isn't very "apathetic" of The Lemming - which I've explained before.