There is a school where Santa Claus learns how to answer heartbreaking requests

Originally published at: There is a school where Santa Claus learns how to answer heartbreaking requests - Boing Boing


I’m inclined to be a problem solver, almost pathologically so. Winston Wolf is my spirit animal. It’s the work I do and often becomes my role with family and friends. It took until my early 40s to realise that I’m not obliged to do that, that there’s not always a solution out there, and that not everyone is looking for a solution to their problem (even when they acknowledge there is a problem).

I’ve learned, as the second article states, that often it’s more important to quietly witness and be present and to comfort. It’s still an act of will for me to do so and fight my tendencies. I frequently have to catch myself. But being mindful of this has improved my relationships with those around me.

Thanks for these articles. I’ll add the most famous cinematic depiction of the compassion and kindness described in the first one.

ETA: Re-watching it, I’m reminded what an extraordinary sequence it is. This is the moment in which the cynical kid played by Natalie Wood starts believing that Kris might be Santa Claus. It works on several levels, and everyone in the process from the writer to the editor knew it needed to be handled with particular care.

First, there’s the choice of the Dutch girl as the focus. Contemporary audiences at the time knew exactly the levels of trauma this little girl suffered: not only losing her parents, but spending most of her life on the brink of dying from starvation, terrorised by bombing raids from the Nazis (Rotterdam was a particular horror) and later the Allies, and then being taken halfway around the world to a strange place for her safety.

Even without that knowledge, though, the sequence still lands despite most of it being in another language. Acting, direction, and cutting carry it. We see Kris connect with the frightened girl by literally and figuratively speaking her language, which is all that’s needed to show that this is someone with Santa-like generosity or spirit toward children.

And looking at the translation reveals an even greater depth still, one that re-inforces the ideas discussed in the FPP articles. When asked she wants, the girl asks only to be able to stay with the kind lady who adopted her. And instead of promising her that will happen (because he has the humility to understand he doesn’t really know their circumstances), he invites the girl to sing a familiar song that will allow her to re-affirm her own belief that Santa will deliver it.

The sequence is imbued with true humanity by all who created it. That’s why it’s so powerful.


I know a young woman who wanted from the age of 12 to be an early childhood educator. She lasted 3 years, precisely because of the heartbreaking stories.

The one that broke her was a little girl whose mom was suffering from addiction. The girl was neglected, and asked my friend (who was kind and paid attention to her) if she could maybe be her mommy? Several times a day.

As a youth baseball coach I had a few heartbreaking interactions myself, and one where I was obliged (morally and legally) to call child services. It is a brutal fucking world out there.


3 posts were split to a new topic: Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction

Okay, so I couldn’t get through the first story without tearing up. (Not that I had any plans to go out and be a Mx Santa, but still …)


i can’t grow the beard, but part of me would love to be a Santa, bringing happiness to kids of all ages that way. but reading these stories, i know i couldn’t do it. nobody wants to see Santa cry.


The United States Postal Service dutifully sends and answers letters to Santa:

ETA: The UK does something similar:


A friend of mine has the look down, even in the midst of Summer. Naturally, he does have a Santa suit and has played Santa at children’s events. He’s also worn it to our “kinky holiday parties.”

He doesn’t play while wearing it, of course, if only because it’s wool! He does have people come and sit on his lap and while there’s certainly a high percentage of people playing up the bad Santa angle, he also gets a sizable number that just want to be that innocent child again, or even cuddle into his neck, ask for things exactly like described in that article, and be comforted while they cry. As adults they know these things aren’t possible, but it can be cathartic to express that you want that person back even when you know you can’t, and he gives them the opportunity to do so safely.

I admire him for it, I appreciate that he does it, but even dealing with adults, I don’t think I could take the heartbreaking wishes.


your friend sounds like a wonderful person. i admire him for giving such a gift to people in need.


He is. :slight_smile: A group of us went out to brunch last Sunday and he managed to grab the ticket almost before it hit the table, so he bought our meals despite our plans to get his! He said we could cover the tip, although we found out later he’d already added one of his own. This meant that our server got something like a 120% tip on the meal! (One of my partners and I are regulars at that diner and had been waited on by that server before, so that made us even happier.)


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