“Dear Santa…”

You’re making your list (and checking it twice!), and so am I!

I know that I wrote (or dictated) Christmas lists long before I started elementary school, but my first memories of writing a Christmas list go back to first grade.  It’s something I’ve (obviously) never forgotten, and always reminds me about why it was so much fun writing a letter to Santa (or later, a list for my mom).  But in first grade, Santa still delivered presents, and we had the opportunity to work on our letters in class.

Let’s go back 30 years to…


I was in Mrs. Mikolajczak’s first grade class, and it was her first year of teaching (she actually retired only recently, the same day my second grade teacher did), and the sixth graders at our school came to class to help us write our Christmas lists for Santa.  I remember thinking this was so cool – a “big boy” (he was 11 or 12, so hardly a big boy) sat with me and helped me construct my Christmas list. I don’t know his name, but I remember thinking he was cute.  I don’t really know what else I asked for that year, but I knew I wanted P.J. Sparkles, this amazing blonde doll (seriously, were all the dolls blonde in the 1980s?) with light-up everything!

I wrote it on my Christmas list (still can’t believe I told a boy this), and sure enough…

Christmas 1989, age 7. Allison Preston, Brian Venezio, and of course, P.J. Sparkles. (Photo Credit: Venezio Family Collection)

Grandma got me the doll!

Of course, my brother also got exactly what he wanted for Christmas that year (from Santa, of course)…

“TURTLES!” (Christmas 1989, age 7). Photo Credit: Venezio Family Collection

I have no clue why I grabbed “Perfection” for the Obligatory “Show Everyone What You Got From Santa!” Photo.  The irony is that I absolutely hated the sound of the game popping up after sixty seconds, I just didn’t know it on Christmas Day.

My brother’s screaming of “TURTLES!” during this photo looks way too much like one of my geek out reactions, but at the time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were EVERYTHING!

I loved the idea of someone coming to help me write a letter to Santa, and was always excited about the time I would be in sixth grade that I would get to do the same for another first grade, a time that I would get to be “a big sixth grade kid” (all of twelve years old) helping another first grader with his wish list.

Five years later…


I was almost two months past twelve years old, in Mr. Vaughn’s class over at the Intermediate School.  The year the big kids came to help us write our letters, our elementary school district had undergone a huge change – the school district was split into two schools – one for Kindergarten, First, and Second Grades, and the other for Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grades (they’ve since gone back to K-6 schools, with half of the township attending what used to be our Primary School, and the other half attending what used to be our Intermediate School).  I was in my final year at this school district, and we were told that we would be doing Santa letters…except we would be receiving them and playing the part of elves.  We would send our letters back to the class that wrote to us.  A different sort of program indeed, as I was excited about the possibility of going back to my primary school to write a letter with a child the way the “big sixth grade boy” did with me.

Under the guise of “Sleigh Bells The Elf” (yeah, I’d like to think I was a budding writer at twelve to come up with that one!), a first grade boy’s letter came into my hands.  I had hoped for a girl’s letter (being female and all), but having a twin brother has its advantages, so I carefully constructed a letter back to my hopeful young man, signed it under my elf guise, and gave it to my teacher to send back to the first grade class.  It was fun – not like the time I got to write my letter, but still fun.  I was a hopeful soul even then, and I hoped he got at least something he wanted for Christmas.  Twenty-five years later, as I’m sitting here writing this at thirty-seven years old, I still hope he got something on his list.

The Ensuing Years…

I wrote many Christmas lists after “the sixth grade elves” came to visit my class, and over the years, the lists changed from toys and dolls to clothes and electronics.  Video games, books, movies, and music were always on my lists as my interests developed in that direction.  These days, I still like books, movies, and music (and yes, video games!), but I also like clothes, pajamas, socks, and Funko Pops.  Yes, the big kid in me likes toys of a collectible nature these days.  My husband and I just bought a house, so now my interests are in decorating the heck out of said house (he says that’s not a present, and when I said I wanted decorative stuff, he also said it wasn’t a present).

A few nights ago, we were in the kitchen, and my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  It’s a pretty weighty question when you’re an adult and you have everything you want in your life.  I tend to turn my focus to things I need rather than want, which confuses him because he believes I must want something.  I make a list on Amazon (he has access to it, and has purchased things from it), but really it is things I would like to have.  Like I said, I have everything I want already, gifts are just bonus.

One thing I absolutely love is to give presents.  I love shopping and picking out gifts for my co-workers and supervisors.  My husband and I host an annual “Friendsmas” with our four closest friends (my best friend and her husband, and our friends that lived three houses away when we lived in our townhouse) that is more about food and playing games than gift giving.

I guess as we get older, the things we really want change and grow – we want the gift of time and family, of things we could use resourcefully, and not just material goods.  A thirty-seven, we prefer substance and non-materialism.  It’s fine to feel that way, it shows growth and priority towards the most important things in life.  When we’re seven years old, it is totally different, and we want “TURTLES!” and P.J. Sparkles.

Well, we did in 1989.



  1. My niece is getting a magic set, it even includes a top hat with a stuffed rabbit puppet. I think I’m more excited than she’ll be. Part of me thinks it’s just an excuse to be able to buy stuff I’m too old to play with.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a niece and nephew now and it’s way more fun getting stuff for them, than it is receiving gifts for Christmas. My Christmas list was always circling stuff in the Sears and JCPenney catalogs that I wanted. There was nothing better in the world than getting those 2 Christmas catalogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen to that! I used to write my list based on things I saw advertised on TV. In sixth grade (1994), my classmates and I all wanted this Casio precursor to the PDA, My Magic Diary. My mom had asked another mom if her kid was getting one, and that mom said yes, so my mom figured it was something all the girls wanted and I did get one. It was a different color than the ones my classmates got, but they thought it was cool! I love buying stuff for my niece – I got her a board game for Christmas that reminded me of one I had as a kid. I’m excited to give it to her!

      Liked by 1 person

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