"My biggest wish this year is that Corona is no longer there."Oliver Berg
Toys, a pet or more time with dad: children’s Christmas wishes are many and varied. Tens of thousands of wish lists pile up in the seven German Christmas post offices during Advent and are answered by hard-working, mostly volunteer helpers.
"What’s in demand this time are things you can do around the house, such as board games and craft supplies," observes Britta Tollner, Deutsche Post AG spokeswoman for the Engelskirchen Christkindpost branch. Like last year, the Corona crisis plays a big role in many letters.
Corona very present
"I wish Corona would be over quickly," writes Benjamin in scrawly children’s handwriting. Clara also hopes "that Corona will stop again" and has painted a rainbow for this purpose. "My biggest wish this year is that Corona is no longer there," reads another letter.
"Corona is very present with the children," Tollner describes. "They want to celebrate Christmas with their grandparents, are annoyed by wearing masks, and are disappointed because events they would have liked to go to have been canceled."
Praise from Santa Claus
Rosemarie Schotte, volunteer manager of the Christmas post office in Himmelstadt, Lower Franconia, reports a similar story. "Corona comes up in a lot of letters," she says. That’s why the Himmelstadt Christkind addresses the issue in its response letter. "Especially you children and young people had to suffer from the Corona pandemic," they say. "But you have endured everything without grumbling. For this I have to praise you very much."
Among the toys and craft items, the classics dominate as always, according to Christmas post offices: dolls, Lego, Playmobil, baking supplies, books, board games, cars, magic kits, puzzles, crayons or ironing beads. Hula hoops and skipping ropes would also be in vogue. Of course, children often have very specific ideas, such as "a turquoise balloon," a "blue punching bag" or a "doll with chicken pox," Schotte tells us.
Toys more in demand than ever
Toy retailers are "cautiously optimistic" about Christmas sales despite supply bottlenecks. Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, toys have been more in demand than ever, the German Association of Toy Retailers (BVS) recently announced. "The pandemic is turning us into players," says BVS CEO Steffen Kahnt. And: "In uncertain times, children are always the last to save money."
Wish lists often include "living gifts" as well. Jannis, for example, wants "a sibling to play with". One girl dreams of a horse, another of a cuddly cat. Miriam would like to have "a real dog, preferably a boxer-shepherd mix puppy, of course.".
Some letters are particularly close to the hearts of the Christmas post office staff, such as when a child wishes that he or she or a seriously ill relative would get well, says Tollner. Or the letter from little Frederik from Erftstadt: He lost his home in the flood disaster in July and now wants the Christ Child to give him a new nursery with toys.