A few years ago, a young couple living in NYC started inexplicably receiving letters meant for Santa each December. Each year since, the number of letters has grown — so they decided to make the best of it. Thanks to the kindness of strangers and a little holiday magic, there are a lot of kids in NYC who will have a wonderful holiday this weekend. In large part thanks to this NYC couple got a bunch of letters to Santa in their mailbox by mistake, and took the time to answer them.
Jim Glaub and Dylan Parker lived in an apartment in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City for several years, during which time they amassed hundreds of letters destined for the North Pole, which for some reason they still aren't sure of, had landed in their mailbox by mistake. No one seems to know how the address became associated with Santa, but it could have something to do with the fact that many famous stories and poems about St. Nick, like "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (better known as "'Twas The Night Before Christmas"), were penned by New Yorkers who often received letters from young readers.
As the number of letters increased, the couple began to realize that they were coming mostly from kids within the city who were in need. So they decided to take action. Glaub told the New York Times back in 2010, “If we bring them back to the post office, are all the kids getting a letter back with ‘Return to Sender’? I don’t want that to happen.”
PEOPLE did a story on the couple, who have since relocated to London, after discovering their heartwarming holiday tale in a short video produced by by Redglass Pictures, which became a Staff Pick on Vimeo. The film, Miracle On 22nd Street, gives a little more background on Glaub and Parker's story, and showcases how they reached out for help fulfilling holiday wishes. This included a still-active Facebook group that helps connect people who want to help with requests from kids in the city whose letters to Santa ended up in Glaub and Parker's capable hands.
Even though the couple has relocated to the UK, they still keep in touch with the current tenant of their Chelsea apartment so that they can facilitate the holiday magic. They now have help from people all over the world to make sure that not one letter goes unanswered. As Glaub told Logo:
It’s just so strange! It’s caused this global effort! We’ve had people from Hawaii to Alaska, Germany to London, Nicaragua, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo — all helping. I guess that’s the power of social media. Why would a woman from Abu Dhabi care about some family from Corona, Queens? It’s amazing.
Glaub and Parker read every letter, and many of them have stuck with them over the years (like one little boy who asked for a bed). Glaub and Parker also hear stories of people who have become connected with the same family year after year, and who have built friendships around what was at first just a simple act of kindness.
Even though the couple no longer lives in Santa's supposed Chelsea apartment, their time their has made them feel certain that spreading holiday cheer is just something they're meant to do in their lifetimes. At first, they were both pretty skeptical about why they kept receiving the letters year after year. In the short film they explain that they thought maybe someone was pulling a prank on them. Dylan thought maybe a teacher in the city somewhere had just come up with the address at random.
But they both admitted that as the years went by, they cared less and less about why and how it happened. Instead, they're just happy that it did. Realizing they had the power to respond, not only changed their lives, but their love story: "You don't think about it, you just give," Dylan says to Jim in Miracle on 22nd Street, "That's always been your way. And I love that about you."
If that's not Christmas magic, than what is?