We ran North Okaloosa second-graders' letters to Santa Claus in the News Bulletin's Dec. 18 and Dec. 21 editions, and it's always a treat to hear what kids really want for Christmas.
These wish lists can be predictable and include items like skateboards and rollerblades, which seem as popular today as they were 25 years ago when I wrote letters to Santa.
They also can be brutally honest, such as when children admit they've been bad and explain why they don't deserve gifts.
Then there are letters that inspire us, such as when children thank Santa for bringing them joy, or ask Santa to skip their house and send presents to someone who really needs them.
Whatever the case may be, we run the letters unedited so that the children's innocence shines through. The lists also tell us what North Okaloosa kids want most from Santa Claus. And, perhaps, they remind adults of a time when they had faith like a child and were caught up in the season's excitement.
As Amber Kelley, The Hobo Homefront columnist, and the Rev. Mark Broadhead, From the Pulpit columnist, have said in their recent columns, Christmas seems to become increasingly hectic and distant from its peaceful origin. The more hectic it gets, the less fun it is.
I don't have wish list, but it would be nice to have a food sealing system so I could prepare a month's meals in advance and store them in the freezer.
That or a Chromecast, since I watch plenty of web shows and currently connect the laptop to the TV's HDMI port for a more cinematic experience.
Neither is an expensive gift, but it's the thought that counts. For me, the perfect gift is the one that fills a need and transcends come-and-go trends.
The thought is the true gift.
And I agree with Broadhead, who pointed out that Christmas originated because of a silent night more than 2,000 years ago.
Saturday, I put up a Christmas tree at my place, and pulled out nativity scenes I'd been given over the years.
I switched on the tree's lights and switched off the living room lights. Amid the warm glow in the silent darkness, I felt the Christmas spirit.