Forget all those Holiday movies starring hunky gay Christmas cowboys or those featuring an irrepressible Fran Drescher etc, THIS is unquestionably the best Christmas movie this year. Don’t just take our word, Santa thinks so too.
Dana Nachman’s totally compelling and affectionate profile is of the US Postal Service’s Operation Santa program for answering children’s letters to Santa Claus, It’s been over one hundred years since they started, and it is remarkable achievement how it has grown and been run with such efficiency and a great deal of love. Especially this year as they USPS had to cope with the restraints of COVID 19, and Trump’s Administration determined to stop them even trading.
Nachman who trod very carefully not to disclose too much of Santa’s persona; details, starts her documentary with a whole assortment of children describing their impression of him. She moves on to them talking what they are going to ask him for in their letters. Her camera travels the country and whilst it focuses mainly on children from families where money is tight, it includes a whole spectrum of them from different backgrounds.
Every single letter is dealt with despite the sheer enormity of the task. Many are sent to regional centers where Santa’s Lead Elf’s set about organising as many people possible to come in and read them. They in turn opt to ‘adopt; specific letters and their writer’s’ and on behalf of Santa undertake to deliver whatever has been requested. The Lead Elves leave boxes of tissues of the desks as it is impossible to read any of the letters without having at least a quiet weep.
On the thing that strikes you through and through is the fact the poorer the child is, the more unselfish they are. Their letters have requests for the siblings and the single parents rather than asking for themselves. If that is not enough, then having a few adults also write to Santa because their lives are at such a low is a very sobering moment.
One of the lead Elves is an ebullient mail carrier in Chico California who is one of the thousands of familes whose homes were burnt to the ground in the bush fires that totally destroyed the nearby city of Paradise. Her infectious energy and good humor is yet another highlight of the film which by now has totally reeled us in hook line and sinker.
There are so many wonderful key moments, but probably the one that touched us most was a letter from young gay kid who wrote
“Dear Santa, do you support the LGBTQ community and if you can speak to God, can you tell him I love him, and if he loves me for being gay[?]”
He didn’t even ask for a single gift, but the gay Elf that was handling his letter, ensured he got a wealth of presents too.
Nachman’s film follows the countdown for the 30 days right up to Christmas Day which by then all of Santa’s Elves who have put their own lives on hold. Seeing the Class from the Elementary School collectively deliver gifts, or the man who drove across a couple of states to drop off the rabbit that had been requested was wonderful. As was watching all the ad-hoc profit groups that had popped up simply to put those enormous smiles on thousands of kids on Christmas Day.
2020 has been a tough year for everybody. What is worse is that the current political climate has created such a bad-tempered bad-mannered society Now our sense of obligations to society and our neighbors is badly in need of an overhaul. This alone has made this wonderfully uplifting film seem so much more essential than ever.
Don’t just share the movie with as many people as possible, BUT also seriously think of being an Elf next year too https://www.uspsoperationsanta.com/
(The movie is now streaming on all major platforms such as Amazon Prime. Itunes, Google Play etc.)