Each year, Dan’s Papers founder Dan Rattiner shares a new fable or tale of Christmas for children and their families to enjoy, with illustrations by longtime Dan’s Papers art contributor Mickey Paraskevas.
His latest, “Santa’s First Letter,” came out last night so parents and kids could enjoy it on Christmas Eve, but we thought it might be fun to take another look back at all of Dan’s stories, published year after year, including “Santa’s First Letter.” Share these stories with your children and have a Merry Christmas!
Click each story’s title to read the full tale and see all of Mickey’s wonderful illustrations.
It is not well known, but Santa Claus’s father lives in the Hamptons. His name is Kris Kringle, he’s retired now from his active work years ago when he gave toys away to the kids in his native land of Holland and the rest of Europe, and it’s thanks to the success of his son that he now lives in well-to-do circumstances in a beautiful house just a block from the ocean in Sagaponack.
Before the Hamptons was “the Hamptons,” Santa was making his regular Christmas deliveries by reindeer and sleigh to the Native Americans who lived here. They were the Montauketts, the Manhansetts, the Shinnecocks and a host of other tribes.
The Indians did not live in teepees, they lived in domed huts with holes at the top to let out the smoke from fires inside. Santa had no problem with the huts when the residents would remember to put the fires out on Christmas Eve. He’d land by the holes and drop the presents down. But on very cold days when the residents would either forget or decide not to put the fires out, he’d early on pass up on those Indian residences. This led to an outcry. But in the end, Santa solved it by strapping bags of gifts to the tops of the domes where the fires were. And everyone was happy. The parents made a game out of scrambling up to the top to get the gifts. The children loved it.
A thousand years ago, when Santa Claus first opened his workshop at the North Pole, he called a meeting with the elves. He was worried. Exactly what did they suggest he do to have his sleigh pulled all around the world in just the 12 hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning?
No airplanes had been invented yet. There were no helicopters, no blimps, no dirigibles. What to do?
To interview Santa Claus two weeks before Christmas, I had to go to the North Pole.
“I’m really sorry I can’t come to you,” he said on the phone in that familiar deep, jolly voice. “But I just can’t get away now.”
“I understand,” I said.
“Now if this had been the summertime…” he continued.
“No problem,” I said.
To get to the North Pole, I took the Hampton Jitney to the Airport Connection in Queens, took a taxi to LaGuardia, flew on United Flight 831 to Anchorage, Alaska with a stopover in Vancouver, took a twin engine Cherokee to Nome, and then boarded a train called the Midnight Express, where I had my own private compartment for the 12-hour trip to North Pole City.
In the middle of the night, four hours before Christmas morning, Owen woke suddenly and leaped out of bed. Had Santa come yet? He ran to the window, pushed his mop of red hair out of his eyes and opened the curtains. Outside, twinkly stars bathed the neighborhood in a soft white glow. Snow had fallen during the night, and the sidewalks, streets and trees, as far as he could see, were heavy with the stuff.
Owen, who was eight years old, looked down the block one way and down the block the other and did not see a footprint or hoofprint anywhere. Nor did he see sleigh runner streaks. Santa hadn’t come yet.
Early that morning, six days before Christmas, grandfather wandered into the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. In the kitchen was his seven-year-old grandson, sitting at the table, writing a letter.
“Let me guess,” grandfather said. “You’re writing a letter to Santa Claus.”
“Yup. I want the new Spider-Man PlayStation game.”
“Have you been good?”
“You know, until I was 10 years old, I couldn’t write a letter to Santa Claus.”