"It's been a busy year for Santa," says Suzanne Bauman. Her desk has disappeared. Buried under hundreds of letters from the children of the South Plains. "I don't know where that card went," she said.
As an Official Santa Helper, who happens to work for the Post Office, each year Suzanne reports to the North Pole with a long list of Christmas wishes, then dutifully sends off a reply letter. "I've sent out over 400 this year, and that's twice the amount from last year," she said.
The letters start rolling in around July, and kids want to know how they're doing. "Am I on the good list or the bad list?" said one letter. Another child writes, "Watch out for the icicles when you come down the chimney, and don't let the reindeers eat the poinsettias since they are poisonous, and please don't mess up the decorations," it read.
"Last year I got a bible from someone, making sure I knew the true reason for the season," said Bauman. It's a hectic job, but one that offers Suzanne comfort during a time of the year when being joyful doesn't come naturally. "And it's tough because I've lost a child, and its really tough. The holidays are tough. And this really helps in getting through the holidays. I've done it since about a year after my daughter was killed, so..." she said reflectively.
So the letters keep coming and Suzanne keeps responding, making her office a place where receiving is just as important as giving.