A red balloon. Legos. Star Wars gadgets. A Playstation 4. A Ferrari.
A typical range of innocent to exorbitant wish list items, including some that conveniently overlap (“Lego Star Wars” for Playstation). Along with under-the-tree presents that are normal here but in few other places like sleds designed to be towed by snowmobiles.
But not all the tiny nissen (“someone who believes in Santa”) depositing their letters to Santa in his mailbox Sunday at the base of Mine 2B (his real workshop, as everyone wise enough to disregard that propaganda about the North Pole knows) are merely materialistic. In fact, that “Ferrari” may be among the cheapest and most spirit-of-the-season requests – although Santa will need to do far more than just send a work order to his elves to make it happen.
“What I want most of all is a Syrian HAMSTER,” wrote one youth who – just in case Santa’s been getting too many requests for mobile phones and Justin Bieber albums – includes a helpful illustration of what the tyke calls “my little Ferrari.” “And lots of hamster equipment.”
At least one nissen this year seems to be familiar with the “’tis better to give than receive” concept, attaching a collection of her pacifiers to her letter and noting that, since her third birthday is coming soon, “you can give them to your nissen babies. I want a large red balloon that I can fly.”
The letters were collected and properly processed for delivery to the original jolly old elf by Odd Jostein Sylte, a supervisor at Longyearbyen’s power plant who made the mailbox long ago so his daughter and other local children could drop off their requests directly at the source.
“My wife and I did it when my daughter was two,” he said. “She’s now 21.”
While some of the youths are facing a holiday season where their parents will be coping with the stress of losing their jobs and moving to the mainland due to the Store Norske crisis, Sylte said this year’s letters are pretty much the same as every other year.
And for parents slow to realize how quickly kids are growing up these days, consider these requests from various three- and four-year-olds: a snowboard, “a snowmobile, a monstrous one,” dogs and a dogsled, snorkel gear and – maybe most mature of all – a hardy wool sweater. Thankfully for the traditional crowd, there’s still the usual requests for dollhouses, visits from friends/relatives and teddy bears (of the polar species…like, duuuh).