The Psychology of Santa

POSTED: Thursday, November 26, 2009 - 9:29am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm

What is it about kids and the magic of Christmas? A psychology professor has analyzed hundreds of letters to Santa to better understand what kids want for Christmas.

What she learned may make parents a little less anxious in this tight economy.
University of Scranton Psychology Professor Carole Slotterback analyzed more than 1,200 letters to Old Saint Nick over eight years. She found making your little ones happy this holiday doesn't have to break the budget.

She wrote about her findings in a new book, "The Psychology Of Santa". "The only ones with a lot of 'please' or 'thank you's' were the ones requesting live animals", Slotterback said.

Leafing through a large stack of letters to Santa, some drew pictures, others tried to explain. From bizarre requests like "a bag of lettuce", to heartfelt wants, like "shoes for mom" or "an angel" for a sick grandma.

"Or all that want for Christmas is mom and dad to stop fighting", Slotterback said. Relatively few asked for the year's hot toy parents clamor to claim.

What they really want for the holidays can't be wrapped in a box. "From reading the letters a lot of them would really just like to spend more time with their parents, a tree, or a special meal. Play board games, make things together", Slotterback said.

If money's tight, Slotterback recommends parents tell their kids, but also ask what really makes Christmas for them? That's all one young immigrant asked for.

"I want the rest of my family in Russia to come to America and be at our house because I haven't seen them in two months and I miss them so much", Slotterback read. A lesson about the real meaning of Christmas from the words of a child.