Once again, letters with Christmas wishes will be going from Texoma to the North Pole to be read by Santa Claus. This Christmas promises to be especially busy for Santa and his shop full of elves, so collection boxes for letters will soon be in place in downtown Sherman and Denison to receive “Letters to Santa.”
Santa letters will also be collected in Denison, beginning with a notable “changing of the guard,” Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. At that time, stewardship of Santa’s letterbox will be transferred from Hubbard’s Furniture Store, after a tenure of 63 years, to Dr. Dennis Nietling of Nietling Optical.
“I’m glad Dr. Nietling is going to have it,” Marcus Hubbard, former owner of Hubbard Furniture Store, said. “I wanted it to stay downtown.”
Hubbard, who recently closed the store after three generations in the family, cherishes memories of the letterbox and its contents.
“My dad got the idea from an appliance dealer up north, and he built it by hand,” Hubbard said. “Every year, we’d get from 150 to 200 letters.”
In Sherman, a brightly colored letterbox to Santa will be placed on the north lawn of the Grayson County Courthouse on Thursday and remain there through Christmas Eve.
“It is really one of our most popular seasonal offerings that we do here in Sherman,” Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. “Kids love it, and parents love it.”
In addition to its popularity, Strauch also stressed the shared benefits that are fostered by the program.
“It really is a neat thing that brings the community together and provides a great service for children and parents this time of year,” he said.
Hubbard’s experience with the Denison letterbox dates back to boyhood friendships and the hope of Christmas wishes coming true.
“James Green, a friend I’ve gone to Sunday school with for 30 years, put a letter in that box when he was 5 years old,” Hubbard said. “He asked Santa for a toy corral set with cowboys, livestock and such, that Babcock Brothers was selling — and he got it. So, you never know.”
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will also be present to express their gratitude to the Hubbard family for their years of service to children, along with their best wishes to Nietling. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also ensure that no letters are lost in the transition, so that every letter will be read by Santa.
Donja Flewalen, office manager for the Denison location of Nietling Optical, admires the yuletide legacy established by the Hubbard family and its value to the community.
“It’s been a staple in downtown Denison for as long as I can remember,” Flewalen said. “It’s just something that gives people a little bit of hope, and it brings smiles to people’s faces.”
In addition to a connection through her official duties, Flewalen appreciates the tradition from a personal perspective as well.
“I’m a mom, and I love it.” Flewallen said. “My daughter is excited about it, so the first thing we’re going to do is write our letters and put them in the box.”
The Denison letterbox will be in front of Nietling Optical at 417 West Main Street in Denison. It will be available during the business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, after its transfer from the Hubbard family on Wednesday, through Dec. 22.