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Scarlet's Web - #5

(Published Dec. 2008, The Spirit newspaper, Philadelphia)

Even Santa Claus has gone high-tech! Instead of going to the trouble of writing and mailing a regular letter to the North Pole, you can now email Santa. What a great relief it must be to the many overworked United States postal workers!

It seems that dear Santa runs a very slick electronic mail system, as he seemingly has multiple email addresses, no doubt each staffed by his Microsoft-certified elves. At www.merry-christmas.com and www.emailsanta.com kids can fill out a form that goes direct to the North Pole, and they are guaranteed a reply from Santa himself. At http://www.santaclaus.com/email.html an email address is provided for children to write to Santa in English, French or Spanish and an instant response is forthcoming including a line from Santa which reads, "Aren't computers great, it is so much easier for me to keep in touch this way!"

And what would Christmas be without a bit of commercialization - even when it includes writing to or hearing from Santa? At www.santa-letters.net parents can purchase a personalized Santa Claus letter to their children at $9.99. Each letter is postmarked from the North Pole and written on official Santa Claus stationery. For an extra $8.95 you can also add a Certificate of Good Behavior signed by Santa and the Head Elf. Rather an exorbitant ruse if you ask me despite the allure of preserving Santa's existence for the little ones. At www.santaemailbox.com for $7.97, you get an instantaneous, personalized response to your email from Santa Claus plus an electronic version of "A Christmas Carol" and a virtual Christmas jigsaw puzzle. The site waxes effusive about the child's reaction: "Most kids scream and squirm with joy! Their eyes grow wide with excitement!"

In addition to emailing Santa this holiday season, we should also remember the men and women in our armed forces who will not be celebrating the holidays with their families. There are many Web sites that provide email addresses for soldiers serving overseas, and give users the opportunity of supporting our troops by way of sending gift packages and holiday treats.

At www.operationdearabby.net you can send emails of support and holiday cheer to our men and women in uniform. The Web site http://anysoldier.com/WhereToSend/ provides a list of military personnel located in areas considered combat or danger zones. By clicking on a name in the list, you are provided with a mailing address and information regarding the needs of his/her unit. The site also offers a list of businesses that will sell you these items at reduced prices for shipment overseas.

The mission of www.operationlettersfromhome.com is to ensure that deployed United States military service members in all branches of the military are supported by providing needed mail support. This is achieved by enabling users to "adopt" a soldier and write to them. Another worthwhile site was founded by a high school in California -- www.amillionthanks.org/. The site appeals to individuals, schools, churches, and businesses around the U.S. to participate by having their students, congregations, and customers write letters, cards, email messages, or prayer messages. These can be mailed to the high school who then ensure that they are delivered to soldiers in active service or to veteran hospitals.

Comments/Questions: email scarletweb1@hotmail.com