Michael Glennbury to Santa, December 1901

Please also bring shoes for my friends, so that we may better pickpocket dandy fops

My Dear Mr. Claus,

As we draw ever nearer to your annual trek around the world, when you stop at the houses of all children to shower them in gifts of toys, clothes, or sweet, precious coal, I must again write you with my requests for the coming year. As I have written to you several times in the last year, you may be getting sick of me. But again, I must beg your favor.

I have been most well-behaved this year. As is customary for nine-year olds, I have been promoted at the mill. Now, my duties are mainly centered around making sure the pigs’ guts and blood don’t clog the whirling blades. You see, it’s much easier to scrap the offal off the floor for sausage-making. As the blades never stop spinning, many of my compatriots have lost their fingers, hands, and dignity on duty.

In order that I may avoid their path, please bring me one pair of steel mittens. This, along with beautiful coal for heating my and my 13 brothers and sisters’ room, is all I ask. For these I would give you thanks most profusely, and would redouble my efforts next year to continue to be good.

Yours respectfully,

Michael Glennbury

Age 9


Here we can see one of the earliest examples of a letter to Santa. What is perhaps most striking is the impressive grammar and vocabulary of this young street urchin with only 2 years of formal education. It just goes to show that people really were smarter back then. Researchers speculate that coal fumes inhaled frequently during one’s formative years opens up the brain passageways, leading to increased intelligence, which lasts roughly 15 years before the child dies of Fernisalium’s Lung, a now-rare disease in which the lungs become so choked with coal dust that they physically remove themselves from the body and move out to the country.

Perhaps we should also marvel that a child of nine would be positioned in the all-important position of whirling blade checker. Though now a rare position in the United States (limited mostly to fast food workers in right-to-work states), Chinese street urchins working in the Pizza Hut processing plant are generally as old as 15 before given this prestigious position. It’s perhaps just another example of old-fashioned American know-how, the kind of go-get-’em attitude that built this country into a world power.

Michael and four of his siblings died the next year in a tragic accident when a pig’s head became detached and knocked them off the blade casing into the pool of blood below, where they were made into delicious sausages.


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