Each year, kids across the world sit down and write their wishlist for Santa. Letters can vary from the amusing, to the ones that really tug at your heartstrings. They're not all asking for the latest gadget or toy either.
Now, a professor at the University of Scranton has presented her findings from a study of these letters. Carole Slotterback, a psychology professor, read through 1,200 letters from between 1998 and 2003 that arrived at the Scranton post office for her book The Psychology of Santa.
The letters ranged from those with perfect handwriting on lined paper, to squiggles and illustrations on coloured and glittery paper. The content was pretty interesting for the children of this struggling town, with many children including photos and phone numbers to ensure Santa really did deliver what they wanted.
Some of the requests were strange to say the least. One child requested that Santa transform him into an elf, whilst another demanded that he should not get clothes this Christmas. Another provided a comprehensive list of presents, including a microscope, camera, and a selection of Pokemon cards.
One letter will brings a tear to the eye of even the most cold-hearted reader. The child requested a Mother, "Not just for me but my daddy, brother and granny ... my daddy works so hard and then he comes home to cook and clean and it should be easier".
Children who write full letters rather than lists seem more likely to adopt good manners, asking after the family and elves. Other children's letters completely neglect the words 'Please' and 'Thank you'. More concerning is the child who sent Santa a death threat!
Children also showed a strong awareness of the world around them, which was particularly seen after 9/11 when children inquired as to whether Santa was safe from terrorists.
The U.S Postal Service can expect to receive hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa this year. A lot of these are read and answered by a team of volunteers at Operation Santa. Of the letters Slotterback read, she estimated that between 3 and 6 percent of them were selfless requests, related to curing an unwell relative or arguing parents.