Santa mailbox and personalized videos for kids

Christmas time is magical.

“With everything going on, we really need some magic right now,” Jenna Martinez, owner of The Magic of Books Bookstore in Seymour, said. “We need some sort of normalcy.”

In the spirit of Christmas, Martinez placed a Santa mailbox in front of her bookstore at 113 W. Second St. in downtown Seymour on Nov. 1 and it will be there through Dec. 18.

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As to where she was able to find a mailbox, Martinez has some friends that make custom wood furniture.

“I found a picture on Pinterest and sent them my idea and they were all for helping make it happen,” she said. “Their names are Brian and Chandra Terry, and their Facebook business page is Knotty by Nature Custom Furniture.”

Martinez went on to say the mailbox idea was originally for the Little Free Library that was at her house before she and her husband opened the bookstore.

“When we opened the store, I thought this would be such a cute activity for everyone, not just my neighborhood,” she said.

Martinez is in a book club and the group has participated in ‘letters to Santa’ for about four years.

“It was something we started doing as a fundraiser for St. Jude at the factory many of us worked at,” she said. “It has been a yearly event that we all look forward to. We love reading the letters from all the kiddos.”

Martinez said ever since she quit working at the factory, she knew they probably wouldn’t be able to continue with the Santa letters there.

“This is such an amazing event that brings happiness to everyone involved,” she said. “I could not just stop doing it, especially since it’s become an annual event.

Martinez said it’s not just the kiddos writing to Santa that get enjoyment, but also the book club members who make sure the kids get letters back, including an elf name on the back showing which of Santa’s elves decorated the letter.

Martinez and her husband, Larry, have a 3-year-old son and 1½-year-old daughter.

Since their kids are too young to write their own letters to Santa, Martinez helps them.

“My son tells me what he wants, mostly trucks and Blippi stuff,” she said. “I write it down for him and I let them both write (scribble) on some paper.”

She said their house is already decorated and they have some Christmas lights up outside and what better way is there to get into the Christmas spirit.

“That is something that we can all do that makes us happy and still be mindful of the pandemic,” she said. “Plus, at Christmastime a lot of people are in the giving mood and with everything going on, people really need some kindness in their lives.”

Martinez said about 20 letters to Santa have been dropped into the mailbox so far.

She said all ages, from weeks old to decades old, are welcome to drop a letter to Santa in the mailbox, because we all need a little Christmas magic.

Another Jackson County resident is helping create a little Christmas magic, too.

Zach Thompson, 30, was born and raised in Seymour and has been playing Santa in some form or another since high school.

The 2009 graduate of Seymour High School is currently president of the Actors Community Theater of Seymour and has been involved with Fear Fair, which is a Seymour Jaycees fundraiser, since 2005.

“I’ve played Santa in plays for ACTS and Jackson County Community Theater (JCCT) in Brownstown, as well as at Fear Fair during the Creepy Christmas Holiday Show,” Thompson said. “Those versions weren’t typical Santas though.”

Most of the time, Thompson has played the regular jolly old St. Nick for family, friends and even some businesses in the past.

He was the Santa for his church’s daycare program at Immanuel Lutheran in Seymour, too.

“However, due to COVID, I wanted to give kids a way to see and talk with Santa without having to go to crowded malls or similar locations,” Thompson said.

He created a Facebook post that said if parents wanted to send him a video with their children sharing a message for Santa, he’d send them back a personalized video as Santa in response.

“This has spread so much farther than I initially anticipated,” he said. “I had planned originally to only have to make a dozen or so videos and this thing went viral.”

He has already received a few submissions from multiple towns and even one from a family in London.

Thompson posted on his Facebook page, “If I can make some people’s Christmas better while keeping them safe, I’ll absolutely do it.”

There is no charge for sending and receiving a video.

“Anybody is welcome to send a video from anywhere in the world,” he said. “All I ask is that people are patient as there may be a lot of submissions.”

Video submissions or any questions can be sent to Thompson at [email protected].