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SANA’A, YEMEN – Dear Santa:

Hello from Yemen. I hope you and Mrs. Claus and Rudolph are fine. I can’t wait for Christmas. It’s my second one. Mommy and Daddy found a Christmas tree and put it in the living room for you.

There’s no snow here. It’s not like the North Pole. Or Hamilton. That’s where I was born. That’s in Canada. Sometimes I mix it up with other places because Mommy and Daddy take me on so many airplanes. I’m 18 months old now, and I’ve been in lots of countries.

On airplanes, Mommy cares for me. But Daddy takes my picture and calls me “pretty girl.” Sometimes “silly girl,” but mostly “pretty girl.” He asks, “How did you get so pretty? Where you born pretty, or did you get pretty along the way?” It’s hard to say, but I look like Mommy, so maybe it’s both.

Do you like Christmas pictures? Daddy says every Christmas his daddy would take him and my Tante Heidi for their family picture. That was in the ’70s. It was just the three of them. And their cats. Daddy says he wore goofy, white turtlenecks with bright-red jackets. My Opa is in his 70s, but I’ve never seen a white turtle on his neck.

This is our Christmas picture for this year. It’s from a place called Kokoban. That’s an hour from our house. My other Grandpa took it. He and Grandma visited us earlier this year. I was really little then.

People live in those rock houses. But Daddy says the hearts of people around the world are the same, whether we live in a rock house or not. Daddy knows because he works at the newspaper. That’s a factory that makes letters into words, then strings them together so people learn things.

We don’t have cats. But we have another family. They own our house. It’s called a flat because it’s flat. They’re nice to us. Mr. and Mrs. Ali have four children. One is a girl. They’re BIG. Soon we’ll invite them down for yummies.

They’re Muslim. They believe some things about Jesus. But they don’t think Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins. If He didn’t, I think he came an awful long way for nothing. I guess that’s why nobody here sings at Christmas.

We’re foreigners, so we can sing. Today is Christmas Eve. So we sang about Jesus with other foreigners at a concert. Mommy played the flute. Mostly, we sing just to ourselves, though. Not too loud to wake the neighbours. We sing that Jesus loves all the children of the world, like my crayons: red and yellow, black and white, we’re all very precious in his sight.

Muslims love children too. So they have lots. In the Middle of the East, if you don’t have children, some people even think something’s wrong. Maybe God doesn’t love you. They might look down on you. Jesus never had his own family. Did people look down on him too?

It must be hard with no family at Christmas. It would be like you with no Mrs. Claus. Who would help you with your mail?

Mommy and Daddy said they’d help me with this letter, if my wish list was realistic. I don’t know what that is, so I’ll just ask for what I want. I wish everyone gets a family and a Christmas picture. And I wish they can sing as loud as they want, so everyone knows how much God loves them, even when it’s raining or when their swing breaks. Is that OK?

When Daddy sees this letter, he’ll probably call me a silly girl. But then he’ll pick me up and kiss me and help me type it. And Mommy will paste in our picture and pray that it gets to you in time, and that you put it in a special place.

I guess that’s all I have to say. So from my family over here to yours over there, Merry Christmas. Don’t get too busy. Sing every day. And remember: don’t eat too many cookies, because you still have to get around next year.

Love,
Elizabeth Katherine