Virtually any letter addressed to “Père Noël” -- French for "Father Christmas" (or Santa Claus) -- and slipped into any post box around the world is likely to go to the sorting office in France’s Bordeaux region that has been handling his mail since 1962. A bevy of volunteer elves respond to about 12,000 letters per day in November and December. This year, about one-third of children’s letters mention the pandemic and share the kids’ hopes and fears. “The kids have been very affected by Covid, more than we think. They are very worried, and what they want most of all, apart from presents, is really to be able to have a normal life, the end of Covid, a vaccine,” said Chief Elf Jamila Hajji. Santa is providing a beacon for adults too; some are writing letters to him for the first time since they were kids. One adult writer asked for “a pandemic of love.” Another wrote, “Your mission will be hard this year. You will need to sprinkle stars across the entire world, to calm everyone and revive our childhood souls, so we can dream, at last, and let go."

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