When youngsters filled with the Christmas spirit write out letters to Santa most simply list out all the gifts they want to unwrap on the big day.
That's not always the case as every now and then the little ones ask for so much more.
A trio of principals coming from Pauls Valley and Whitebead have seen those letters that really stand out from the rest as a young girl or boy might ask Santa to help with something far more significant than just a present under the tree.
In some cases it's really a wish about family or something just written down in the letter that wasn't expected.
Take for example these from third-graders in Pauls Valley.
“I don't want much this year but for you to have a Merry Christmas,” one youngster said to Santa. “I want to be with my family. Bye bye.”
“I wish you could help my mom. It looks like she is struggling. Please Santa, you're the best in the world Santa.”
“I want ... to see my mom for Christmas.”
“How do reindeer pull your slay off the ground and how do you give every kid in the world presents in seven hours and these things are what I want for Christmas.”
Honesty truly is the best policy as there were some changes made to correct the young students' spelling errors.
Going even younger, first grade to be exact, there's this – “I know how I (have) been but I will stop it now. I (will be) good. I love you Santa.”
Jackson Elementary principal Kristi Herd says it's always interesting to see what kids will ask Santa for on the letters they write from school.
“I ask the kids to think about what they would like, and most just write down a list of things. But there are some that put simple things on there – things like family,” Herd said.
“It's not always extravagant technology things. You'll see a lot on the importance of family; simple things that mean a lot to them.
“You still see these long lists, but there are some that make you stop and think about it. Some are just heartbreaking.”
Brenda Pyle, now in her first year as principal at Jefferson Early Learning Center, says the prekindergarten and kindergarten kids at the school really just tell it like it is no matter what. That includes Santa letters.
“I looked through all the Santa letters. You see the typical toys kids want, but it did seem there were some in each class that we as adults would see as heartfelt,” Pyle said.
“A lot of them are a reflection of all the things they're having to go through in life right now. I saw one who wrote on her letter wanting a bed of her own,” she said as in that one case a bed was later donated and delivered to the child's home.
“You can tell what a child is going through in that list for Santa. It's a reflection of them at this time, but also it's a reflection of what's on their minds, issues like their family.
“One of the things we see with these little ones is most of the time they're brutally honest. At this age they don't know anything else but tell it like it is. They don't mind telling you they didn't get dinner last night or something else with their family.”
Pyle is quick to add since being in Pauls Valley it's been amazing to see so many people respond to the specific needs of these youngsters and their families.
“It's been amazing to see this outreach for each other in this community; people stepping up to fill a specific need,” she said about things like kids needing shoes, a coat, food or even someone financially adopting a family's need.
“People are extremely giving in this community.”
For Whitebead principal Lou Ann Wood she sees some students using the Santa letters to express a desire for things to go back to normal – as in before COVID-19.
“We have seen that with some of the Santa letters. Kids want their normal back,” Wood said.
“They're excited it's the Christmas season. They want to be with family; they want their normal back. They know they can't be around some family, like the ones in quarantine or grandparents that can't come over. It makes Christmas different than what they're used to.”
Herd said she and the school for local first through third grade got a Christmas surprise when one local woman made an unusual donation.
She had put her alone time to good use during the virus pandemic the last few months by making and now donating a bunch of toboggans, sweaters and scarves.
The woman was apparently given lots of yarn, so while staying home during the pandemic she “hand crocheted” the items and recently donated “two huge trash bags” full.
Those items have since been given to kids in need at the three local elementary schools.
“They're so excited to get these things. They're excited when they pick them out,” said Herd, who spent the last two years as principal at Jefferson.
Herd is about to wrap up her first semester as principal of the school where she once taught first and second grade youngsters.
“It's been great. These kids do look a lot bigger than the ones I had at Jefferson. It' been great coming back where I started.
“It's been a great transition, but I'm ready for all of us to be together,” she said about the new elementary school expected to soon open on the west side of town.