If you are looking for a bit of a feel-good moment, a time out from the daily horrors of 2020, watch IFC's Dear Santa, a documentary about kids' letters to Santa and the "elves" at the United States Postal Service (USPS) who help make their Christmas wishes come true.
Dear Santa follows the trail of kids' letters to the big man up in the North Pole with Operation Santa, the 100-year-old USPS program that helps volunteers adopt letters to Santa Claus and makes kids' wishes come true. Hundreds of thousands of letters are mailed to Santa Claus from hopeful children across the United States every year, and Operation Santa "elves" take on the massive job of trying to get those letters answered.
Dear Santa, which opened in theaters and Video On Demand on Dec. 4, travels to select Operation Santa centers in metropolitan areas like New York City and small towns as well to see how these volunteers make things happen. In a short clip from the film, kids are interviewed about Santa Claus, and they talk about how he "brings us presents on Christmas Eve" with big smiles on their faces, confidently saying "he's going to know what I want because I'm writing him a letter," before heading off to the mailbox to post those letters.
'Dear Santa' is an endearing movie about kids' letters to Santa.
From there, the clip follows along with the people who make sure those letters get answered. The people delivering the letters to Operation Santa centers, for instance, and then the volunteers who make sure some of those letters get "adopted" by people who fulfill the kids' wish lists. It's a big job that takes a lot of people helping out, but it is clearly worth it. As one man says, "The kids are only asking for love, how can you not answer this letter?"
Director Dana Nachman talked to TODAY about the unifying theme of Dear Santa, saying, "I wanted to showcase something that happens to everyone in our country, whether you're from a red state or a blue state or in a rural state or an urban city. Kids who write these letters can be needy or wealthy. It's agnostic to all the things that divide us now. And it's not just about kids who need coats or want something silly — this movie is about the inner workings of kids' brains. One person in the film says, 'It's like messages in a bottle we can read from little kids.' And it is!"
Dear Santa is a documentary that reminds us of all that is good and selfless in the world. That there are so many people who will do just about anything to make a kid smile. Even if it's just helping them to believe in magic for one more year.