How does Santa Claus handle all those letters?

by Frank 2. December 2012 06:02

All over the Western world little kids are writing to Santa Claus asking for presents for Christmas and telling Santa what good children they have been.

However, Santa must receive tens or even hundreds of millions of letters and all within the short few months before Christmas. How does he handle this veritable avalanche of mail? How does he process it? How does he even read each and every letter? How does he match the presents to the letters? How does he make sure the child has been good?

As Santa has been doing this for some time we can only assume that he has some pretty slick systems in place so as not to disappoint even a single child. The scale of his operation is awesome and dwarfs anything undertaken by any other organization.  Granted some of the work may well be handled by elves and fairies but surely in this day and age even Santa makes use of computers and software? I mean, there are millions and millions of letters, how many elves and fairies can he employ? How would he house and feed them all? You can imagine the problems if they are unionised; he must be automated in some way.

I don’t know but I envision that he must use at least a super computer or two and some really very, very clever auto-reading, auto-matching and auto-ordering software. This isn’t the kind of job you could do manually. He has to read let’s say one hundred million letters and at even just one minute a letter that equates to 1,666,667 hours of reading or 69,444 days of reading (if he works 24 hours a day) in just 60 days. That is a tough ask even for someone as experienced and capable as Santa Claus.

Yet despite these astounding statistics Santa meets his objectives year after year after year.  This is the man I would like to have as Prime Minister or President. Can you just imagine what he could achieve if he was running the country?

But, back to the question; just how does he do it?

Well obviously he must have a central mail room with a very fancy machine that opens every letter and separates the letter from the envelope. Then every letter must pass by a reading station that scans and OCRs it allowing for multiple languages, fonts and any kind of hand writing, including that of a two-year old. Santa’s software must be significantly more sophisticated than anything I have seen.

Then the text of each letter has to be intelligently analysed to extract the child’s name and address as well as the list of presents.  This information then feeds into Santa’s purchasing system that issues orders to toy manufacturers world-wide. Then he needs to track millions of orders and deliveries and package and stack everything in the correct order for his deliveries all around the world on Christmas Eve; phew!

Just think about the difficulty of ensuring that the right toys are at Santa’s hand very time he stops over a home. On second thoughts, he must be automating the process by uniquely tagging every toy with Santa’s advanced (and invisible) version of RFID tags. Maybe he even has his elves or fairies go out in advance and RFID tag the homes or even the children to ensure a perfect match? All I know is that he gets it right year after year after year so whatever hardware and software he uses it must be pretty special.

Of course, my admiration for Santa’s abilities grows by leaps and bounds when I try to work out just how fast he moves. Even allowing for an extended Christmas Eve because of multiple time zones he still has to visit hundreds of millions of homes in just 24 hours (1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds). This means that good old Santa manages to visit a home, deliver a present, eat the cake or biscuit the good child has left for him and drink whatever libation the child or dad or mum has provided in around eight ten-thousandths of a second. This man is fast and I don’t know what he feeds his reindeers but it must be the ultimate ultra-high energy food to support this pace; it is no wonder that Rudolph’s nose glows.

There may well be some miserable, glass-half-empty, doubting Thomas’ out there who look at these amazing statistics and say Santa can’t be real because it is just not doable. But that is a dumb thing to say because it is as obvious as the nose on your face (or even the nose on Rudolph) that Santa is real and that it is undeniable that every Christmas Eve for centuries he has left presents for good little children all around the world. His record is impeccable; this man sets a standard for all of us to aspire to and admire. Santa never disappoints any child despite the enormous challenge he sets himself every Christmas Eve.

Santa brought me presents when I was a child (I still remember the Hopalong Cassidy cap-gun and holster), he brought presents to my children when they were little and now he brings presents to my grandchildren. This man is real and he has never let me or my family down; what a wonderful person he must be to do so much to make children happy.

When I read the newspapers, listen to the depressing news on radio or watch it on TV I realize just how much we all need to believe in Santa Claus and what he stands for. A wonderful, loving, caring and unselfish person who does everything in his power to help the most helpless; our beautiful children. Would it be that our leaders were even a fraction as good and as unselfish and as accomplished and as trustworthy as Santa. Can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be?

Santa is my hero and I hope he is yours too; Merry Xmas to you all.



Frank is taking a break over Christmas and New Year and will be back writing his Blog again in late January 2013.


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