Active Thinking Topic 23 -  Your Letter to Santa's Mail Box

Monday 18 January 2022, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Any replies to the organizer -

Venue: ZOOM online

Focus Questions

1. C'mon, what's your big wish? Explain yourself. Why should Santa care?

2. You are the mayor of Adelaide. What's your big wish for this place? Please explain to Santa.

3. You have asked Santa to turn all guns on planet Earth to chocolate. a) What would happen to the price of chocolate? b) What would happen next?

4. You are one of those random billionaires who has pledged to give everything away before they die. Who/what to and how would you actually give this stuff away? Explain yourself to Santa.

5. What do all those millions of kids who send a letter to Santa at the North Pole mostly ask for anyway? Are they smarter than their mums and dads about asking for stuff?

6. All kinds of folk who have been herded off into retirement get an urge to send a letter to Santa's Mail Box .... Make a guess at some of their likely wishes. Explain yourself to Santa.

7. Santa has a special Christmas tree for world leaders. They put their presents for other world leaders under the tree. What will each find when they open their gifts? Now why do you think that?

8. Somehow a little black raincloud has always followed you around. Tell Santa about some times you got rained on. How might Santa explain why these things happen?

9. You have a factory in China making Santa suits, Santa caps, fairy lights and all the rest. Business keeps getting better and better. This is great for profits, but you can't really figure it out. Ask Santa what the hell is going on. How do you think Santa might explain this deepest of all mysteries?

10. Then it happened, in some year to come - on one expected Christmas eve no kids sent any letters to Santa's Mail Box. Christmas was cancelled. Santa consoled his reindeers and put away his sleigh. What do think he wrote in his diary? How do you think he explained this catastrophe to the landlord of his South Pole post office?

Extra Reading

Sarah Jenkins (February 1, 2017) " Action with Intention: Disentangling Wishes from Hope". Good Therapy website @ 

Facebook Meme : a> I want to be a billionaire, like my uncle ; b> What? is your uncle a billionaire? ; a> No. He wants to be a billionaire too.

Kirsten Weir (October 2013, Vol 44, No. 9) "Mission impossible - Being hopeful is good for you — and psychologists’ research is pinpointing ways to foster the feeling". American Psychological Association @ 

Kelly Allen (December 17 2018) "Why you should spread the Santa story" Psycholopaedia @ 

Nathan Friedland (Dec 22, 2014) "Opinion: Santa Claus and the importance of hope - I realized how important it is for children to believe in something that represents hope when my own daughter was diagnosed with a devastating illness. I believe it's crucial that we encourage children to believe in someone like Santa Claus". Montreal Gazette @ 

Thor May "Traveling North - Australia 1962". Extract from the prose-poem anthology, "The Wrong Address" @  [Thor, comment: This is a tale about the dissipation of hope, for me as a teen, but most of all for my father. However, as a prose poem it may be incomprehensible to anyone else ^_^. "This is the true tale of an epic journey. In 1962 my family made a doomed trek across a vast continent in search of a dream. Our family was financially poor, but rich in hope. My father was a carpenter. The dream had sustained and united us right through my childhood. Then one day we came to the end of Australia, and our dream collided with time. We lost it forever, but to have lived that trek and the years which came before it made us what we were - something special in a down-at-heel world." ]

Thor May (1987) Afterword from "The Wrong Address - fragments from an Australasian life" [an autobiography and anthology, 20 prose poems]. The Passionate Skeptic website @
(for the whole anthology see ) [Quote: "If you had asked me at most times in the last fifty years, offered to let me push the big red re-set button on living life over again, I would have hesitated in confusion. Perhaps that’s why I am still a poor man. But born in a lucky country at a time of peace (more or less), ugly but healthy, aware of the desperate lives in less fortunate places, only a fool would not want to count his lucky stars and pause before gambling on another throw of the cosmic dice. .... Sometime in the last few years I passed a red traffic light that suddenly loomed out of the mist without warning. The sign underneath it said “Welcome to Retirement Land. Game Over. No Exit From This Territory. You Are Now Harmless and Useless. Have A Nice Sunset”. It was true. The mist cleared, the warm sun came out, they gave me a pittance to live on and gently suggested that it was silly to work now. I looked around, then looked back at the race I hadn’t known I’d been running. Now it was clear. Life was supposed to be over by regulation. Wasn’t I decently happy? Well, not altogether. Where was that big red re-set button? Just having one shot at a very short race whose shortness you don’t know about at the time seemed kind of unfair. Dammit, I’d just learned a few useful things and it was game over, the official story said. Come to think of it, there were a dozen lives in parallel universes which I’d like to have a shot at before picking a final one for posterity. To hell with the official story!"]


Thor May (2016) "Count your lucky stars". The Passionate Skeptic website @  [Quote: "What part does luck play in the success of individuals, enterprises and countries? Think of examples. From politics to careers to finding the love of your life, there has never been more advice available, yet at the end of the game, some people seem to have been lucky and others not. Why is this so? Can you really do much about it?"]

Andrew Leigh (September 3, 2020) "Charities dwarf mining and agriculture in our economy." Brisbane Times @  [Quote: "The charity sector is 8 per cent of the economy, 10 per cent of the workforce, and mobilises 3 million volunteers. It dwarfs agriculture, mining or manufacturing. Since COVID-19 hit, two-thirds of volunteers have cut back their hours. Donations are expected to fall 7 per cent this year, and a whopping 12 per cent next year. Yet while the supply of resources has plummeted, the demand for help has skyrocketed .... Australia has more than 50,000 charities – but ... many are doing it tough. Financially many charities live from month-to-month. The Ramsey Foundation estimates that the typical charity has so few assets that they could cover less than three weeks of operations. Some charities might not recover from COVID. A report from Social Ventures Australia and the Centre of Social Impact estimates that one in seven charities risk becoming unviable by September 2021 under existing JobKeeper requirements. Almost 200,000 jobs are on the line..]

Tasha Wibawa (28 June 2019) "How the world's richest 1 per cent may be fuelling the problems they're trying to help solve". ABC News @  [Quote: "1 per cent of the world's population owns half of the world's wealth — a significant leap from 43 per cent of the world's wealth in 2008 — while 10 per cent of the global population still lives on less than $US1.90 ($2.80) a day. And as the rich get richer, some worry we are entering an "age of philanthropy", where increasing numbers of wealthy individuals, families and corporations set up foundations for social investment, albeit with unintended consequences, like sidelining the responsibilities of governments".

Lindy Alexander (May 2 2017) "Meet the 'effective altruists' who earn to give." Sydney Morning Herald @  [Quote: "Adelaide-based Pfeiffer committed to giving a percentage of her household income to charity and deliberately chose a career that would enable her to "earn to give"... "I specifically chose my career because you can earn above average," she says. "Phil and I thought hard about our careers, our personalities, our life stage and the best return we could get in terms of maximising what we give." Pfeiffer, 39, has also set up a financial advisory practice with the view to selling it in 10 years, and donating 20 per cent of the proceeds to charity. ... "I'm always asking how I can get the biggest return for my giving dollar," she says. "We ask that question with financial investments, so why not with giving as well?" Pfeiffer's goal was to give $100,000 by 2020 and is going to hit the target this financial year. This is impressive given that for the 2012-17 financial years her average household earnings were around $160,000. "We now give up to 20 per cent of our annual income" ]

Katharine Murphy (22 May 2017) "Andrew Forrest gives away large part of his fortune in $400m donation - Forrest and his wife Nicola are making one of the largest philanthropic donations in Australian history, to fund a variety of social and medical causes." The Guardian @ 

Kirill Zykov / Moskva News Agency (Dec. 23, 2021) "Putin Thanks Russian Santa Claus for Presidency". Moscow Times @  [Quote: "Vladimir Putin on Thursday thanked Father Frost — the Russian version of Santa Claus — for having helped him become president and urged the mythical figure to help carry out Moscow's plans. ... Putin was responding to a question from a journalist based in Veliky Ustyug — a town in northwest Russia that is home to Father Frost — about a lawsuit by a person claiming Russian Santa Claus had not fulfilled his wishes for 23 years. ... "I can advocate for Father Frost and remind the plaintiff that Father Frost only fulfills the wishes of boys and girls who have been good," Putin said"]

Jennifer Duke (January 16, 2022) "‘Santa did not show up’: Business-to-business turnover hits lowest level on record". The Age @ [Quote: "December 2021 average trade receivables fell 45 per cent below 2020 turnover levels and hit the lowest point since the series began in 2015."][Thor, comment: note this Guardian article from 8 months ago: "The 2021 federal budget reveals huge $311bn cost of Covid to Australian economy" @  . At that point the Jobkeeper program was costed at $89 billion. It now appears that up to $40 billion of this was gifted to large companies which actually increased sales during the pandemic. The treasurer was made aware of this enormous wastage (corruption ..) but opted to do nothing about it]

Nick O'Malley (January 16, 2022) "South Australia breaks [world] record by running for a week on renewable energy." The Age @  [Thor, comment: Hey, Adelaide is finally world best at something worthwhile! Next step?]

Alex Ward (October 2, 2020) "Best wishes and barbs: World leaders react to Trump testing positive for the coronavirus. Russian President Vladimir Putin even sent a telegram. Ever since President Donald Trump announced he and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus early Friday morning, statements ranging from the heartfelt to the grotesque have poured in from world leaders." Vox @ 

“Letters to and from World Leaders - Sample Letters” of the NSA Presidential Transition File at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library". Ford Library Museum @  [Thor, comment: When Richard Nixon was forced to resign as US President on 8 August 1974, the Vice President, Gerald Ford, became president. It was unkindly said that Ford couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time (probably why Nixon chose him). Anyway, the letters linked here are a good example of the formal, highly structured letters of wishes & intentions exchanged between heads of state. Of course, their private attitudes are something else entirely].

Oliver Wainwright (Fri 19 December 2014) "Santa's real workshop: the town in China that makes the world's Christmas decorations - Inside the ‘Christmas village’ of Yiwu, there’s no snow and no elves, just 600 factories that produce 60% of all the decorations in the world." The Guardian @  [Quote: "Christened “China’s Christmas village”, Yiwu is home to 600 factories that collectively churn out over 60% of all the world’s Christmas decorations and accessories, from glowing fibre-optic trees to felt Santa hats. The “elves” that staff these factories are mainly migrant labourers, working 12 hours a day for a maximum of £200 to £300 a month – and it turns out they’re not entirely sure what Christmas is."]

Jacob Schroeder (June 30, 2021) "Happy Retirees Have These 7 Habits in Common". Kiplinger website @ 

"The Santa Clause". The Disney Wiki @  [Quote: "In the (1994) film, Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, an ordinary man who accidentally kills Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. When he and his young son finish Santa's trip and deliveries, they go to the North Pole, where Scott learns he must become the new Santa and convince those he loves that he is indeed Father Christmas. ... Santa magically disappears after his fatal fall, but his familiar red and white suit remains. Scott and Charlie find a card in a pocket which reads If something should happen to me, put on my suit. The reindeer will know what to do. Santa's sleigh and eight reindeer are found perched atop the house. Scott puts on the suit to please Charlie, and begins delivering toys from rooftop to rooftop". ]

Joshua Becker (2020) "35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget." The Minimalist blog @  [Quote: "5. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have, who they are, and who they can become. 6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not".]



Your Letter to Santa's Mail Box (c) Thor May 2022

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