During the holiday season, a lot of children sent letters to Santa Claus to let St. Nick know what they want for Christmas, and sometimes just to say hi. What happens to all of those letters? The UPS Store provided an answer on social media, and it’s one the kiddies might not like.
“If your child addresses a letter to the North Pole, you can leave it with us,” the UPS Store’s official Twitter account tweeted Sunday night. “We do shredding.”
The tweet had been retweeted 2,541 times and liked 9,633 times as of 2 p.m. on Monday, but was then deleted after a widespread outcry on social media. UPS doesn’t appear to have commented on the tweet or the decision to delete it.
UPS also got some not-so-happy reactions to the tweet itself.
“Can you also flip off my child and tell him there is no Santa for an additional cost?,” writer Tony Posnanski asked in the replies.
“This is too dark for me,” defense attorney Ken White said. “And too dark for me is pretty godda**ed dark.” There were plenty of Grinch and Elf references as well. And one tweeter argued that destroying mail without permission may very well constitute a federal offense.
Left out of the discussion is why any child would use UPS to send a letter to Santa rather than the regular mail unless they were for some reason sending Santa a package.
So what actually happens to letters to Santa Claus? It depends on who intercepts them.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) – not to be confused with UPS – has a “Letters From Santa” program. It encourages children to write letters to Santa, their parents to write a separate letter “from Santa,” for the parents to address both letters to the child, add “SANTA, NORTH POLE” to the return address, affix a first-class stamp, and put that envelope in a larger envelope marked “NORTH POLE POSTMARK POSTMASTER 4141 POSTMARK DR ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998.”
However, it is recommended that such letters be sent on December 8 or earlier – it’s pitched as a fun Thanksgiving activity for families- so it may be too late for this Christmas.
This continues a tradition that goes back to 1912, as explained in a Mental Floss article when the postmaster general “gave local postmasters the authority to allow employees and citizens to answer letters addressed to Santa.” Similar programs exist around the world, and more than 4 million children per year send letters to Santa Claus.