Every kid comes to the age where they question exactly how Santa delivers presents to kids around the world in one night. Dear Santa answers that question by introducing the human elves that Santa enlists to help him out.
Operation Santa is an over 100-year-old program in which the U.S. Postal Service collects the letters sent to the North Pole and encourages people to ease Santa’s load on Christmas Eve by adopting a letter. Dear Santa shows Operation Santa at work through the mail elves who sort the letters, the lead elves who get letters to potential adopters, the adopter elves, and of course the kids and adults who send letters to Santa hoping that he’ll fulfill their request.
The documentary immediately confronts the logistics of Operation Santa. Thousands of letters are sent every year from all over the country and must be fulfilled by Christmas Day! Dear Santa displays both the bustling mailrooms in metropolitan cities and the postal workers in more rural areas that pick up and sort through the mail. But the documentary is really about the human elves who partake in the chaos to spread joy and cheer for the holiday season. Many of them reveal that they receive direct instruction from Santa and via phone calls and text messages. Unfortunately, none of them would breach Santa’s privacy to show the exact messages.
Dear Santa is director Dana Nachman’s seventh documentary. Her documentaries Batkid Begins and Pick of the Litter particularly show her build-up to Dear Santa. Batkid Begins is about the city of San Francisco turning into Gotham City for a young boy’s Make-A-Wish request and Pick of the Litter follows a litter of puppies as well as the workers who train them to become service dogs for the blind. Like Nachman’s previous work, Dear Santa too celebrates the innocence and kindness that exists in the world even when it seems invisible. There are even moments that will make the most stubborn of grinches’ hearts grow two sizes.
I have to admit, I sometimes get caught up with the stress of the holidays and was particularly disappointed to not get to visit family this year. But Dear Santa reignited my Christmas spirit. There are moments to laugh at the crazy gifts kids ask from Santa (one kid wanted 10 bunnies) but the best parts are seeing the faces of people when they realize that someone really does care. And that’s enough to get me through the New Year.
Dear Santa is available now in theaters nationwide and to stream video on demand.