For the second consecutive year, Linda and Jeanette Bokland are bringing Christmas magic to Mount Dora. Their Letters to Santa project is what the holiday season is all about and exactly what people need during an unusual and challenging year.
How Letters to Santa Started
In 2018, the couple added the decorative mailbox to their front yard. They were surprised when they found a handful of cards addressed to Santa. Not wanting to disappoint the children, the couple decided to write back as Mrs.Claus. Last year, there were almost 500 letters to Santa, and the Bokland’s are expecting even more this year. Every letter gets a personalized response, making Christmas just a little more magical for each child.
Some of the letters weren’t from children. For instance, several of the notes were from adults who were lonely and wanted someone to talk to. Without knowing they would do it, the Bokland’s helped people fight off their loneliness. Jeanette fondly remembers a letter from a teenager. In the letter, the teen discussed her mom’s fight against cancer.
This year, Jeanette and Linda felt it was more important than ever to spread the joy. COVID changed the way kids can celebrate the holiday and took away close encounters with Santa. To make the holiday special, the Boklands decided to continue on with the letters.
“Honestly, before those little letters, I was not a huge fan of Christmas,” Jeanette confessed. “Linda always led me into the season with a little reluctance. This has changed everything for me. It’s been a little Christmas magic for me, as well!”
Preparing for a Busy Year
Before the holiday season began, the Bokland’s replaced their decorative mailbox with a functional one. The mailbox they had out last year wasn’t made to withstand the weather. Although it’s still festive, this year’s mailbox is sturdier.
Linda and Jeanette knew they couldn’t handle all the letters on their own. During the first season of letter-writing, the couple created “Team Elf.” The team came together to respond to the letters and ensured every letter received a response. Despite COVID, the Bokland’s were able to safely bring Team Elf back together in a socially-distant manner.
Some of the team writes from home, and others meet in small groups. Overall, there are about a dozen scribers. There are other helpers who donate postage and cards. Every once in a while, a card comes in that touches an elf’s heart, and they send gifts.
How Your Kids Can Get Involved
Ready to respond to letters, the Bokland’s encourage parents to tell their children to send letters to Santa. Your child can draw a picture, share their wish list, or just talk about life. If you have anything you’d like Mrs. Claus to include in her letter back, send a note with your request.
Receiving a letter from Mrs. Claus might not seem like much. But a letter is hope, magic, and kindness. For many families across the country, 2020 has been a tough year. Children and adults alike have struggled to adapt to changes they never imagined. And while the Bokland’s have no way of bringing normalcy back to this chaotic year, they can bring back some of the joy and magic of Christmas.
You can drop off your letters to Santa to the decorated mailbox in front of their home at 201 W. 11th Ave in Mount Dora or mail it using the zip code of 32757. As long as Team Elf receives the letter by December 21st, your child will get a response. If you include a return address, Mrs. Claus will write back to you with a letter postmarked from the North Pole Express.
Jeanette and Linda Bokland own Spouses with Houses Realty. They strive to help people in Central Florida with their home ownership goals, and now help other dreams of a magical Christmas come true with their “Letters to Santa Project.” Learn more about them here.
Mount Dora has one of the most magical holiday lights displays in Florida. They also host an annual holiday boat parade. If you are thinking about visiting Mount Dora, check out our Mount Dora Road Trip Guide.
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