Holiday tradition continues in the Messenger this week


This issue of the Messenger is one of my favorites. It is the one where the innocence of our children shines brightly. It is our Christmas Section where we publish letters to Santa and have businesses sponsor the childrens'' fantastic drawings.
Publishing the letters is a Montgomery Messenger tradition that dates as far back as 1959. After checking our archives, that is the first issue of publishing the Letters to Santa in the Montgomery Messenger.
It's a sign of the times revisiting these holiday memories. In the December 24, 1959, issue, children wanted such toys as gas stations, doll buggys, dishes, Tinker Toys and clothes. 
Here is a sampling of some of the letters:
“Dear Santa, Please Bring me Tinker Toys, a Bride Doll, A frilly petticoat, dishes, and real cake-mix. I am in first grade. My sister Kim is 2 1/2 years old. She wants a little Bride Doll. You will find our house on the South Shore of Phelps Lake. We are good girls.  ---- Mary Lynn Duffney”
“Dear Santa Claus, I am 6 years old. I would like a doll house and a little suitcase. My brother would like a gun. Please bring us some nuts too. Thank you. Darlene Joyce Trnka.”
Some letters really showed the sign of the times. In Robert and Karen Pope's letter, they asked for some things that I haven't seen in any modern letters to Santa:
“I am writing this letter for my little sister Karen because she is 6 years old. For Christmas she would like a Tiny Tears doll and an utility set or an ironing board with an iron. I would like a pair of figure ice skates or a camera. Please bring us a nice tree, candy, nuts and fruit. From your friends, Robert and Karen Pope.”
Little Ricky Ginter asked for a jet fighter, a desk, a blackboard, and bowling set. His sister, Joni, asked for a set of dishes, clothes for Tiny Tears and something for her baby sister.
For those youngsters today, Tiny Tears was a doll manufactured by the American Character Doll Company. She shed tears from two tiny holes on either side of her nose when her stomach was pressed after being filled with water from her baby bottle. In 1959, Tiny Tears acquired "rock-a-bye" eyes that slowly closed when she was laid horizontally and gently rocked. Tiny Tears became one of the most popular dolls of the 1950s, due in part to television ads featuring a young Patty Duke that aired on popular children's shows “Ding Dong School with Miss Frances”.
It's amazing how things change over the course of 53 years. After doing a quick summary of this year's Santa letters, I've put together a list of some of the popular gifts on the Christmas lists: Anything electronic like iPod, iPad, Kindle Fire, Xbox 360, Wii and Wii games. A lot of kids still want the “old fashioned” toys, and by that I mean a toy that uses your hands to play with like legos, kittens and puppies.
Some things, however, haven't changed since 1959. All the kids back then and today think they have been good all year and that they deserve their presents. Mary Therese and Gene Mach both agreed that they “tried to be real good” and felt they deserved a Tiny Tears doll with rock-a-bye eyes for Mary Therese, and a pull train for Gene. 
Susan Greer, from Kilkenny, wrote that she also thought she was a good girl and deserved a Shirley Temple doll with cloths, and a watch.
In today's letters, many children were also a little more altruistic. One little letter writer asked for more pajamas for his mother because she didn't have a lot to wear. He also asked for something for his dad's truck. Many said they have also helped around the house.
No matter the decade or generation, this is a special time of year for parents and children. However, we all need to say special, special prayers after the terrible shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. where 20 children and six adults were killed last Friday morning. I am praying for God's arms to be wrapped around each family member, child and all who are affected by this horrific act.