Posted Friday, Dec. 23, 2011, at 6:25 PM
A man dressed as Santa Claus in Rovaniemi, Finland, in the Arctic Circle.
Photo by MARTTI KAINULAINEN/AFP/Getty Images
At about 1:25 a.m. on Dec. 3, I sent a quick message to SantaClaus@gmail.com. I figured if Santa was going to have an email account, it would be Google-based. When the note didn’t kick back, I wrote a follow-up letter:
So I’m supposing this does work. Well, sorry to bother you. I’m sure you’re beginning to get a lot of emails in the box this time of year—wanted or not.
Anyway, if you see this and possibly have a few moments, I’d love to chat.
I included my title, Managing Editor of The Washington County Observer in West Fork, Ark. I thought maybe it would help. Then, like a child, I patiently waited, for 48 hours.
My next email included the subject line “Inquiry for Gmail owner of Santa Claus (Not Spam!)” That sounded professional to me. I also contacted Google tech support, hoping for background on this supposed Gmail Santa. Google Press Officer Andrea, however, was little help, sending me a cheerful, cheeky response. So I wrote Gmail Santa again on Dec. 18:
Dear Recipient of the SantaClaus Gmail address,
Again, I apologize for intruding on your day.
Late last week, I sent an inquiry to Google about your account, curious if perhaps it might be the early work of some forward-thinking person in the company. All the Google tech would say is that the company respects privacy concerns, ending with, “I guess the man in the suit wants to keep his secrets!”
Fine. But you may be interested to know that this Google tech also signed off with the Christmas-robbing Grinchian “Happy Holidays.”
If these efforts seem crazy, note that, in the interim, I’d reached out to the other holiday mascots on Gmail. “Does this email account work? Of course it does!” replied the Easter Bunny with surprising professionalism. “I’m very busy prepping for Easter, but would be happy to answer a few quick questions.” He signed it “All the best, EB.”
I wrote back immediately:
I’ve been trying to reach SantaClaus@gmail.com since the beginning of December, with no luck. Because of that, I thought I’d test out the other holiday mascots. Cupid@gmail.com is out because Google requires at least six characters when creating an account. And apparently, the “Kwanzaa Fairy” isn’t actually a real thing.
Fortunately, the Tooth Fairy is very friendly. She and I have been chatting back and forth about all the emails she gets, and she said she’s been doing it for 10 years.
So, well, when did you get an email account? And why? I understand Santa and the Tooth Fairy’s need for Gmail, but what do people send you?
He still hasn’t gotten back to me after that one. But my exchange with the Tooth Fairy was delightful. Her tone was either flirtatious or something like a Disney character sounds moments before singing the movie’s second big number; it was difficult to discern. In any case, she’s still in the same line of work she’s been in since her Viking days. According to a profile on Queen Anne View, the Tooth Fairy is a DDS, with a focus on pediatric dentistry, in Seattle. While she may not have wings, she was Miss India Worldwide in 2003.
The Tooth Fairy told me she gets “4-5 emails every week,” many of them from kids who have just lost teeth for the first time. “Often kids will send pictures or poems or adorable images along with their letters,” she said. In her emails, the Tooth Fairy used a lot of smiley-face emoticons and reminded me to floss. She even sent examples of the emails she receives and replies to. “Someday these emails will go into a book titled Letters to the Tooth Fairy,” she told me. I wished her luck.
Then I returned to Santa. I explained that I had many questions as both a journalist and a Christmas enthusiast. I told him the interview could be awesome. I also tossed in something about people who are “less fortunate.” I was going to ask him how many emails he receives yearly and how he responds to each one. Does he ever get kinky pictures or heartbreaking confessions from truly lonely people?
Really, though, the story sounded like a quick and easy byline, which is the greatest Christmas present a freelance journalist could ever receive. But Gmail Santa wasn’t getting back to me. I got desperate, wrote to SantaClaus@compuserve.com and SantaClaus@netscape.com. No luck. A message to SantaClaus@yahoo.com was never returned. The reply from SantaClaus@aol.com was worse than nothing: “Santa and Mrs. Claus are exhausted and taking it easy till it’s time to do it all again next year!” it read, a full five days before Christmas. “In the meantime, check out KOL.com!”
Two nights before Christmas, I sent Santa Claus one last, dejected email.
“Sorry I’ve been bad,” I told him. “Merry Christmas.”