By Sallie W. Boyles
Who speaks on your behalf?
A highly self-sufficient individual might say, “I do all my own talking!”
At certain times, however, any person living in a functional society relies on other parities—e.g., employees, hired professionals, public servants, friends, etc.—to communicate for them as agents and advocates.
- Sales managers charge their teams with upholding company policies when interacting with customers.
- Doctors rely on nurses to deliver accurate take-home instructions to sick patients.
- Citizens elect representatives to promote the interests of their district.
- Matriarchs and patriarchs entrust family members to pass down their stories as told.
As I learned from recruiting my grandmother to write a letter to Santa, vetting the individual’s qualifications is often just the first step in choosing the right spokesperson.
When Grandma Wrote My Letter to Santa
When I was four and my sister was five, we went to our mother for help in writing our letter to Santa. Busy getting ready for work, she suggested we ask Grandma, who was visiting.
In her late seventies by then, our maternal grandmother had raised eight of her own children, giving her over thirty grandchildren.
√ Communication Skills
Any family member or friend who received Grandma’s delightful letters, which she thoroughly enjoyed writing, praised her composition skills.
Grandma always kept a pen and box of stationery on hand, and she knew how to address an envelope and mail a letter.
√ Best Interests
As a loving grandmother, she wanted only the best for us.
If we’d interviewed multiple candidates for the job, my sister and I would not have found a more competent individual (at least not on paper) to write our letter to Santa.
Agreeing to assist us and settling into a chair, Grandma was in her element. “What would you like for Santa to bring you?” she asked.
“Toys, Grandma!” we announced.
“Wouldn’t you like some oranges?” she inquired. Not waiting for our reply, she began writing in cursive.
“Okay,” we agreed, assuming she was starting with stocking stuffers. Watching her pen move across the paper, we added, “And toys, Grandma!”
“How about some nuts?” she continued.
“Okay,” my sister said, trying to sound enthusiastic. Uncertain if I liked nuts, I halfheartedly copycatted her response. After what seemed a long period of watching her scrawl some more words, we simultaneously sang out, “And toys, Grandma!”
She responded by naming walnuts and pecans, followed by raisins and dates. My sister and I exchanged troubled looks. What will Grandma think of next! Apples and bananas? She’ll run out of space before mentioning our baby dolls, much less a tea set.
Panicked, we emphatically reminded her, “Toys, Grandma!”
“Alright,” she said, finishing up.
Had we gotten through to her? Grandma wouldn’t want to disappoint us, but she seemed stuck on fruit and nuts. Also worrying us, her hearing aids didn’t always function well. Nevertheless, as Grandma handed over her letter, which we were unable to read, we thanked her sweetly.
Not wasting a second, we then ran to our mother. “Grandma told Santa we wanted fruit and nuts!”
We didn’t really know what she’d asked of Santa, and we weren’t taking any chances.
Biting her lips to conceal a smile, our mother told us not to worry. She’d read the letter to make sure Grandma had included baby dolls and a tea set. That was a relief, but we were baffled: Why did Grandma want Santa to bring fruit and nuts?
Our mother, who received only a stocking with edible treats as a child, explained that times had changed. Also, having endured The Great Depression, Grandma had learned to be thrifty. (To this day, I don’t know what my grandmother wrote down, but I had overheard her express to our parents that we children didn’t need another thing.) Finally, we were reminded to count our blessings, which we did—on our fingers!
Years later, I realized Grandma sincerely had our best interests at heart. We didn’t need “another thing.” I wonder if she had any idea that making the memory, which conjures flashbacks of other sweet times with her, was the gift I’d come to treasure.
Admiration and trust do not guarantee that an intended representative is on the same page regarding the big issue or one small but important detail. If that’s the case, the prudent action might be to opt out—politely. Alternatively, an individual’s differing viewpoint might be worth considering.
By the way, finding walnuts, pecans, raisins, dates, and one juicy orange in our stockings was magical: Santa had received Grandma’s letter!
Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady
Thoughts or questions? Please contact Sallie Boyles, owner of Write Lady Inc., to exchange ideas about effective communications and gain from professional writing and editing services. Receive monthly tips and insights by subscribing at https://WriteLady.com.