A box of paint, a school bag and maybe a bit of candy: These were the items desired by one modest little boy writing to Santa Claus in 1915.
Homer Mellen was 7 years old when he penned this Christmas wish list in neat cursive script asking politely for a few items he needed. Toys and candy were almost afterthoughts.
"Dear Santa Claus," the London, Ontario, child wrote almost exactly 98 years ago. "Will you please send me a box of paints, also a nine cent reader, and a school bag to put them in. And if you have any nuts, or candy, or toys to spare, would you kindly send me some."
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The letter has been preserved through the decades by the Mellen family, which recently shared the letter with GoodMorningAmerica.com as a response of sorts to a story about a little girl's extravagant wish list.
"It says so much about the lack of appreciation for those things that truly are a special gift," Homer's son Larry Mellen, himself now 79, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. "We just take it for granted that you're going to have that stuff at Christmas time, or any other time for that matter."
Indeed, nuts, candy or spare toys are a far cry from the items on many a child's list this year. Whether they're asking for the latest must-have toy or cold hard cash, contemporary letters to Santa generally don't ask for anything nearly as practical as the things Homer Mellen asked for.
A recent study commissioned by British toy chain Early Learning Centre found that the average child's Christmas list costs more than $1,400 to fill completely.
"The majority of parents said that Christmas lists create disappointment for children if they do not receive all the gifts that they have asked for," said Reg Bailey, chief executive of United Kingdom-based charity Mothers’ Union, per The Telegraph.