I found a stranger’s letter to Santa

Arlen Parsa
Dec 17, 2018 · 3 min read

About a year ago I found something that shocked me. I was at a grocery store.

It was right around Christmas time and the store was selling these decorative Letter to Santa mailboxes.

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The idea is, little kids put their wish list in there and then their parents know what gifts they want for Christmas. Anyway, I walked up to one of these mailboxes for sale, and just on a whim, I opened the back to see if anyone had put anything inside these display models. I reached my hand in and found a folded piece of paper.

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It was a letter, and it read: “Dear Santa, I need to have a crown put on my broken tooth and I can’t afford to have the work done. Could you please bring me the assistance to have the work done… Thank you for your God Sent help!

This is not the handwriting of a child. Imagine being a grown adult who is desperate enough that they write a letter to Santa and leave it in a decorative store display.

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As I read this letter in the supermarket aisle, I realized that this kind of desperate note would not exist in virtually any other rich country.

Because every other one — from England to France to Germany, to Japan — — they all have some kind of government subsidized universal health care system. The United States is the only advanced nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee medical care for people in need.

Now, there was zero contact information on the letter so I have no idea who wrote it or how to get in touch with them. And I put the letter right back in the box where I found it.

That was a year ago, and I haven’t been able to get this experience out of my head. I’ve donated to a charity that provides dental care for people in need, and you can find a link to donate yourself below. But ultimately no charity has anywhere near the capacity needed to be able to serve everyone who needs help.

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The truth is, the United States spends way more money on healthcare than any other country in the world. What does all that money get us? Unfortunately we have worse health outcomes than many other countries, we have shorter life expectancies, and we don’t even come close to covering everyone who needs health coverage. The for-profit American healthcare system is super outdated. Virtually every other advanced country in the world abandoned it years ago. Germany upgraded their system in the 1800s — that’s how far behind we are!

So, what’s the cure for this? We need a universal health care system like every other industrialized nation already has. That would be the best Christmas gift of all, and it’s one we can buy for ourselves, by voting for and donating to political candidates who support this vision. Until then, letters to Santa like this one will continue to pop up.

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Arlen Parsa

Written by

I’m a documentary filmmaker and all around troublemaker. More at arlenparsa.com.

Arlen Parsa

Written by

I’m a documentary filmmaker and all around troublemaker. More at arlenparsa.com.

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