Ani’s Advent invitation: Robbie Cheadle – Christmas letters, now and then

Day two of the anti-antler campaign and I have a special guest… she writes and makes stuff to eat with her pup, Michael. She has read him my books too… even if my rotten two-legs did put her name on the cover. Still, it’s Christmas…a time of goodwill and peace to all two-legses…so I s’ppose I forgive her. Especially if she might be cooking turkey again this year.

I have a fondness for turkey. It has got me into trouble once or twice. How was I to know she actually planned on eating the rest of that bird? What I say is that she shouldn’t leave the fridge open as if it were fair game. It’s Christmas and all sorts of strange things happen. I thought she meant I should help myself….

The smoked salmon was nice too… she really wasn’t happy about that, though. But if she and my boys can have salmon starters before the turkey, I thought I should too. I just got sidetracked by the bird and had it for dessert instead. With the cheese.

Anyway, before I dig myself too deep a hole here… let me share Robbie’s story

Christmas letters, now and then

I was very worried. Willy and I had only just written our Christmas letters to Father Christmas. What if Father Christmas didn’t get our letters? I was sure his elves were busy on the day before Christmas. It was all Dad’s fault. He shouldn’t have cancelled our aeroplane tickets from France. We would have gotten home much quicker if he hadn’t.

Mom helped us write our letters as soon as we woke up. I had a list of ten books that I wanted on mine and a Star Wars lego playset. Mom was pleased when she heard my wish list and smiled at me.

Willy didn’t have any books on his list. Willy wanted a Star Wars light sabre, the knights costume he had seen in Euro Disney, a police lego set, a wooden sword and shield, a big tin of chocolates (all for him – no sharing) and ten knights and a dragon. Mom looked less pleased about Willy’s list. He had no books on it and Mom said he was being greedy. She wrote three books on Willy’s list and didn’t add the last three items on his list.

Mom decided that now was the time to teach us boys a life lesson about being greedy at Christmas. She opened her laptop computer and Googled “letters to Santa through the ages”. A list of letters written by children from long, long ago came up in response to her search. Mom read them to us.

The first letter was written by a boy who lived in a place called Sumter in South Carolina. Mom said that South Carolina is in America. I want to go to America. I want to visit the Disney Land in America.

This letter was written in December 1883. Mom read the following:

“Dear Old Santa Claus

I call you old, because Papa says, you are the same “Santa Claus” that lived when Grandpa was a little boy, and he is over 75 years old now. Papa says that you are either at the North Pole, or in Norway or Russia today, he don’t know exactly where, but if I write you through the Watchman and Southron you will be sure to get my letter, as it is a very popular paper and goes everywhere.

Dear Santa, please come and see us once more next Monday night. Papa says times are so hard and money so scarce, that he is afraid you won’t be able to come and make us have a “Merry and Happy Christmas.

You mustn’t buy and bring us expensive presents, but only some little trifle to make our hearts glad.”

This letter made me feel a bit sad when I thought about all the things I had put on my wish list. The next two letters were even worse, and I felt tears coming into my eyes when I thought about the children who wrote these letters so long ago.

“Dear Santa

I hope you will enjoy your Christmas, as I intend to enjoy mine. O, how glad I am that Christmas is so near and that the dear child Jesus was born so many years ago when laid in a manger. I hope we will enjoy our Christmas better than the last one, as our dear good father die the 14 of Dec. We have miss him very much and will miss forever. I hope I will see him once again not in this world; but in heaven.

Teresa Riedmiller

Mom said that this letter was published in a newspaper called The Chicago Tribune on 22 December 1895.

The next letter that Mom read was from a time she called “the Great Depression”. Mom said that this was a time when all the people in the world were very poor. There were no jobs and lots of families were homeless and hungry.  Mom said that throughout the Great Depression, which lasted for more than ten years, children wrote to Father Christmas, who these children called Santa Claus. Many of the letters asked Santa Claus for jobs, money or schoolbooks instead of toys and games. Some of the children posted their letters to the White House in Washington D.C. Mom said that this is where the America president lives. The children hoped that the American president at that time, President Roosevelt, who cared so much about the American people, could somehow get their Christmas wishes to Santa Claus. Mom read that one letter to Santa Claus during the Great Depression was address as follows: Santa Claus in the Happy Land where there is no depression. The letter said the following:

“Dear Santa Claus, State street:
I am a little girl, 7 years old, and I’m afraid that you won’t call at our house, because we are so poor. Father has to work hard all day and mother is sick and says we needn’t expect anything. Please when you are on the west side if you will just call and leave a little book or something I will be much obliged. You can’t come down the chimney, because it is too small, but I will open the door if you knock.”

Willy did not appreciate the life lesson Mom was giving us. He started to wriggle and kick the back of the settee.

Mom ignored him and read us a story that she said was written by Father Christmas when he visited a boy in a Children’s Hospital on Christmas Day in 1960. This is what she read:

In the hospital was a boy called Bobby. When I met him he had tubes running every which way and had been in the hospital most of his life. Bobby looked up at me and said “Santa, what do you do with pain?” “Well, because of my crooked fingers, I can’t even point straight to the North Pole, so I have to take Advil. What do you do with pain?”

Bobby said “I take pain and put it in a box and wrap it with tissue paper and bright ribbon and throw it away.” “Why” I asked. “I can’t show pain” said Bobby. “Why not?” I asked. “It hurts my Mother’s heart,” he replied.

Mom stopped there thank goodness. I had tears streaming down my face and Willy was standing on the floor jumping up and down, wanting to get going.

We put our letters on the counter and got ready to go shopping. There was no food in the house as we had eaten everything before we left for France. It was still snowing outside and it was very cold. Dad didn’t want to drive far in this weather so we decided to go to the nearby city of Canterbury.

8About the author

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books.

Find and follow Robbie

Blogs: and

Twitter: @bakeandwrite

Facebook: @SirChocolateBooks

Antlers are for Reindeer!

If you would like to help save Ani from a fate (she says) worse than death, send your Letters to Santa, festive memories, short stories, flash fiction or poems to the Small Dog. She will post them every day through December until Christmas.

She would especially like to hear from her four-legged or feathered friends (she has a special place very close to her heart for turkeys)… but she says that two-legs are better than none, so she will accept submissions from humans too.

To get in touch, please use the form on the contact page or email Ani at

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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61 Responses to Ani’s Advent invitation: Robbie Cheadle – Christmas letters, now and then

  1. Ritu says:

    So touching!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A wonderful read. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. barbtaub says:

    What an absolutely charming story! Thanks so much for sharing , Robbie and Sue and especially Ani.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Darlene says:

    A wonderful Christmas post! Thanks Ani for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Makes you count your blessings.
    Note for Ani: hope she didn’t have indigestion after the cheese. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:
    Michael and I are visiting Ani over at Sue Vincent’s brilliant blog today. Thank you Ani for hosting us and sharing our Christmas letters to Santa story.


  7. Thank you for having us over to play with you, Ani 😁


  8. Lovely post Robbie. very touching.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Mr. Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Jennie says:

    Oh, my! This was a tearful and wonderful read. The “gimmes” of too many children today, so this was important.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sobering and magical at the sametime! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Showing pain hurts his mother’s heart…that one really got to me, Robbie. A wonderful, refreshing holiday perspective. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mary Smith says:

    What a touching post, Robbie. I wasn’t far off tears myself reading those letters.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. paulandruss says:

    A sweet and touching post Robbie- Great feature Sue

    Liked by 2 people

  15. It’s the second day in a row that WordPress posts have made me cry. I’m not going to have a tear left by the end of December. Beautiful post, Robbie. Thanks for sharing, Ani. ❤ I need a funny one soon!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. What a pretty Santa, and what a wonderful story. Thank you, Robbie and Sue. Have a great weekend. Michael 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Oh, sorry, i forgot Ani. Ani, have also a great weekend, and tell Sue you reall love salmon. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Oh how this reminded me of when Mao pre-ate the turkey legs, but I cooked it anyway and served it with the holes in the legs … and everyone looked at me and said: “Mao?” The counter-surfacing dogs who only displayed that ability during pre-festive meal preparation. How come they were too short to get to the counters BEFORE that?

    Liked by 2 people

  19. A timely reminder that many children and families are suffering, yet hanging on to hope even today. Sharing is caring… Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Widdershins says:

    Kinda puts things like the recent ‘black friday’ insanity into perspective, doesn’t it? ;;; wonderful post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Lol. Ani’s quite a character, Sue! Enjoyed the letters as well, Robbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. A lovely post Robbie and a great reminder that we have so much to be thankful for. 🌼

    Liked by 2 people

  23. What a poignant Christmas lesson for today and always. Thank you, Robbie and Sue.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Beautiful Robbie and very moving. Amazing how times have changed and the perspectives have changed for so many. A great eye-opener !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Pingback: Writing Links 12/4/17 – Where Genres Collide

  26. I love that the fur baby ate the turkey without remorse. Reminds me of our Boxer. Letters to Santa must be a great reflection of the times.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      And the smoked salmon…and the ham. I am informed it was simply my own fault for leaving the fridge ajar as an invitation… though when she syole the cheese and left her tennis ball in the fridge as evidence, that took the biscuit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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