Letters To Santa Reveal The Distressing Effect The Ongoing COVID Pandemic Has On Children

Dec 16, 2020 | 🚀 Fathership

Writing letters to Santa is a time-honored tradition. Children all over the world lay down their wishes and desires, and hope to find shiny new presents underneath their Christmas trees. But 2020 turned the world upside down, and the ongoing pandemic has impacted children no less than adults—and this year’s letters to Santa reflect that perfectly.

As USPS launched the digital letter adoption campaign—it was covered by my colleague and you can read more about it here—it became clear that it’s not just joy and laughter that children are greeting Christmas with. Among the ordinary letters asking for a new doll or a bike, there are heartbreaking confessions and pleas for Santa to perform a true Christmas miracle and fix a world that’s seemingly hanging on by its hinges.

One of the kids that sent a letter to Santa was John, and his message was simply heartbreaking: “We don’t even have a tree. Honestly, we don’t have money for anything, not even for my birthday.” The pandemic caused disturbances to many households.

Some, like John’s family, no longer have the means to provide like they used to, so even Christmas or birthdays become a luxury they can’t afford: “I just wish for money to help them with anything like a bill or rent or just a gift for being the best grandparents and bestest parents to me.” Many of us give little thought to how fortunate we are to be able to complete a simple exchange of gifts, and perhaps this holiday, we might remember that it’s the feeling of giving that actually counts, not the items themselves.

Children don’t focus on personal gifts only, they ask for something for the parents too

Monetary constraints are another issue that plagues the pandemic-ravaged world, as some of the children are asking for help for their parents to cover the bills or other expenses. In some cases, the kids even ask Santa to bring presents to the parents since it’s unlikely they will receive anything by other means.

9-year-old Alani asks Santa for a Lego set because her mother can’t get anything for her this Christmas. The girl said, “She’s not getting paid as much so she can’t afford anything and I would appreciate it if my mom could get something too because she takes care of us and gives me food and works very hard so I just wanted something for her like a gift card.”

Adults use operation Santa letter adoption to ask for help during this difficult time

And if you think it’s only the children feeling the blues on this holiday, you’d be mistaken. The pandemic has hurt adults just as much. Santa’s letter adoption was meant to help both children and families in need, and this year, it seems that community support will be more appreciated than ever.

Hally is a mother of 3, and according to her, “this year has been the roughest I’ve been through in a long while.” She added that her family needs a vehicle to get around—both to transport kids between their activities and to have a car to her doctor’s appointments as she’s a cancer patient. This holiday, Hally is asking for a necessity, not a luxury.

USPS’ Operation Santa is over a century old, and this is the first year the campaign was launched nationwide. Anyone in the US can adopt a letter and make someone’s holiday all the brighter, especially in these trying times. So, people who want to earn some karma points or would just like to do a good deed to secure a spot on Santa’s good list can now visit the USPS’ special site and become Santa’s little helpers. And here are some examples of the letters kids sent to the Santa.

Check out some of the other letters that kids sent out to Santa

Image credits: USPS Operation Santa

Unrepentant teen with a long list of offences is why some parents shouldn't breed

Nov 25, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Ralph Wee Yi Kai, a 19-year-old Singaporean man, has pleaded guilty to eight charges on Nov. 25 during his plead guilty mention before District Judge May Mesenas.

The charges include consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure at the Singapore Zoo, and committing mischief by damaging property, reported CNA.

Another six charges will be considered during his sentencing.

Probation is "not realistic"

Wee pleaded guilty via video link from his place in remand, where he has been since Nov. 6.

The prosecution strongly objected to a probation suitability report, noting that Wee is "beyond the control of his parents, which renders probation unsuitable", according to CNA.

The prosecution asserted that probation "is not realistic" for Wee, based on his repeated offences and conduct in court.

They cited his "blatant disregard for rules", and urged for a reformative training suitability report instead.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Lee said Wee "has a tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol", which caused him to behave aggressively towards his parents.

He also "posed a risk" to them, which led him to be admitted to the Institute of Mental Health.

"Never expected it to come to this"

Wee's defence lawyer Shashi Nathan requested for the addition of a probation suitability report, according to CNA.

Shashi maintains that his family is able to supervise Wee, and added that his client "comes from a good family" who are "able to look after him".

He said that Wee was undergoing "a severe emotional crisis" when he committed his offences, and shared that the case has also affected Wee's family, especially after their home address was released to the press.

"While Ralph understands that what he did was wrong, he never expected it to come to this," said Shashi.

Difference between probation and reformative training

Wee was ordered to go though both assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report, reported Yahoo News.

Offenders who undergo probation will not have a criminal record, while reformative training, which provides a more structured environment, results in a criminal record.

What Wee's lawyer said

Wee's lawyer said his client acted out after breaking up with his girlfriend, 18, who was the one who filmed the video of Wee backflipping in the zoo.

The defence lawyer, Shashi, said Wee spiralled into an emotional crisis as a result of his break-up.

Wee is homeschooled.

The court was told Wee saw a video of a man riding a giraffe and decided to make a video in the rhino enclosure, Yahoo News reported.

The ex-girlfriend had filmed the act and posted it on her private Snapchat account.

Wee posted it on his public TikTok account and a police report was made by a zoo personnel within the same day.

Wee removed the video when he was told to do so by the police, but reposted it on Dec. 18, before being told to remove it again, claiming he thought the video had been made private when he reposted it.

Wee had also included a link in his Instagram account biography to directed to a page selling t-shirts with the words "rhino ralph".

But he denied creating the merchandise profile.

He later removed the link.

Wee will return to court on Dec. 20 for his sentencing.

Timeline of events with updated details

Oct. 9, 2020, 2:40am: Allegedly committed an act of vandalism by hitting an information panel at a bus stop in Sixth Avenue, off Bukit Timah Road, causing S$900 in damage.

Allegedly caused damage to two cars -- S$2,800 to a Mercedes-Benz and more than S$1,600 to a BMW -- in nearby Sixth Crescent.

A taxi driver passing by reported him to the police, as Wee was standing in the middle of the road with a beer bottle in hand.

Dec. 16, 2020: Wee was placed on compulsory supervision for 60 months from Dec. 16. He was required to present himself for urine tests on each Tuesday and Thursday, but failed to turn up on four occasions.

He was placed on e-tagging during this period of time, after having been charged for his earlier offences.

He had to stay at home from 10pm to 6am as part of his bail conditions.

Dec. 17, 2020, 2.40pm: Accused of trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure and taking a video.

Dec. 18, 2020: Reposted zoo video, despite taking it down earlier after being told to do so by the police. Told to remove video again.

Dec. 24, 2020: Accused of abusing a frog, which subsequently died, by hitting a ball against it on a foosball table, causing "unnecessary pain and suffering".

The incident allegedly took place at a Sentosa Cove property.

July 2021: First hauled to court and charged with two counts of mischief, as well as one count each of vandalism and criminal trespass.

Bail was then set at S$15,000.

Aug. 6, 2021: Allegedly consumed cannabis while out on bail. Arrested at his residence and two urine samples obtained tested positive for weed. S$15,000 bail revoked.

Sep. 14, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-vaporiser and six e-cigarette pods at a ward in the Institute of Mental Health.

Three police officers showed up at IMH, where Wee was warded, to arrest him for failing to attend court.

He was admitted to IMH due to his drug and alcohol abuse, as had acted aggressively towards his parents when they demanded the drugs from him.

He was warded in IMH due to the risk he posed to his parents.

Oct. 13, 2021: Charged with one count of drug consumption while still in remand.

Bail raised to S$20,000 and Wee was released.

While out on second bail, Wee committed a string of offences, including cutting his electronic tag, according to ST, as well as not reporting for his urine tests on a few occasions, CNA reported.

The prosecution has called for an urgent bail review hearing to have Wee's second bail revoked for the alleged fresh offences.

Oct. 26, 2021: Allegedly cut a S$100 GPS ankle tag at an address on Leedon Road at about 12:10am.

Prior to this act, Wee was upset at his father, who had asked Wee to sleep early since he had to report for his urine test in the morning.

After arguing with his father, Wee decided to leave the house, and used pliers to cut off his e-tag before cycling to his friend’s house.

Upon discovering that Wee was missing, his father called the police.

The e-tag, worth S$100, was damaged and could no longer be used.

It was found in Wee’s house.

Oct. 28, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-cigarette pod at the Leedon Road address.

Nov. 5, 2021: Warrant of arrest issued, as Wee could not wake up to attend court.

Nov. 6, 2021: Wee arrested.

Nov. 12, 2021: Slapped with four additional charges.

Nov. 25, 2021: Pleaded guilty to consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into a rhino enclosure, and committing mischief by damaging property belonging to others.

Ordered to go though assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report.