Michel Bussi responds to children’s letters

The French novelist will lend his pen to La Poste to respond to the million missives sent by children to Santa Claus, like the pediatrician Françoise Dolto before him.

Under Santa’s red suit this year hides the writer of suspense novels Michel Bussi, who has sharpened his pen to respond to the million letters that children will send via La Poste, a tender role that no one had previously taken on. no personality since Françoise Dolto in the 1960s.

It all began in 1962 when postal workers discovered missives addressed to Santa Claus in the mail being delivered. Moved, they then decide to answer it, “on their own“, hidden “in an attic“, the law strictly prohibits opening mail, says David Resse, head of the Santa Claus secretariat based in Libourne (Gironde).

The initiative reached the ears of the psychoanalyst and pediatrician Françoise Dolto, sister of the then Minister of PTT, who found the approach “awesome», continues Mr. Resse. She thus writes the “very first letter» type which will be returned to the children, with “a little educational touch“. The Santa Claus secretariat, managed by La Poste, was born.

Read alsoMichel Bussi: “In comics, a page can summarize two pages and it’s just as powerful”

Since then, its success has continued, with more than a million letters sent per year. This represents “30 to 40,000 letters per day to process (…), an absolutely considerable figure” because “families attach a lot of importance to this first writing», rejoices David Resse.

This year, Santa’s secretariat opens on November 14.
After Françoise Dolto, the task was entrusted to the marketing department of La Poste, and in 2023 the writer of suspense novels Michel Bussi takes over. “I am very proud to have been chosen“, confides the author, whose “the magic and melancholy of childhood» surround the novels, and who wrote for children’s literature.
On the envelopes received at Santa’s secretariat, we find “writings everywhere, in all directions”, drawings, stickers, and whimsical addresses such as “Avenue des Rennes“, “Northern Lights” or “In the clouds», testifies David Resse who says to himself “touch“. “What (the children) remember is the moment when they write it, decorate it, talk about it», agrees Walid Mezazra, 40-year-old human resources manager and father of two children.
For Michel Bussi, the idea of ​​the letter is not “just making a gift list”, but let the children think, make people talk “their imagination, their fantasy, their humanity“. And responding to them constitutes “enormous pressure», adds the author who mentions “a colossal draw» of the standard letter. But it is also a “pretty» style exercise, with “something short, (which has) genre constraints» and who must convey “a positive message without being completely moral», Lists the writer.
Michel Bussi had to craft a second letter, intended for adults who “still believe in Santa Claus» and who write to him, he says. David Resse confirms that the phenomenon, “marginal”, exists, adults seeking “an attentive ear“. Elena Frigioi, a 43-year-old interior designer, dreads the moment when her children will know that Santa Claus does not exist: “Finding the truth is the ugly part…“.
In the meantime, with her children, Antoine, seven years old, and Marie, four years old, she makes the beautiful letter and leaves it “in the red mailbox» installed by its town hall, as certain municipalities do in parallel with the La Poste initiative. But without ever receiving a response, because in these cases there is no dedicated secretariat…
On the side of La Poste, David Resse insists: there is no need to put a stamp but mention the child’s address so that the response can reach him and deposit the letter in the circuit of La Poste boxes. Elena then leans towards Marie: “This year, we will put the letter in the yellow mailbox“.

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