A former Canada Post letter carrier who held on to a heartbreaking Dear Santa letter for 22 years has reconnected with the woman who wrote it.
When Tom Hurst worked as a letter carrier in Halifax, N.S., he was one of the people who would respond to the letters that were mailed to Santa Claus. One day in 1993, he received a letter signed Candy W.
Candyce Sellars was eight when she penned the letter to the North Pole, asking not for presents, but to see her father, as well as for her family to stop fighting.
'Send me my dad'
"Well anyway there are a few things I hope you can grant. They are to see if you can send me my dad or if you can't do that then I would like a Grape Escape game or some thing like that or Dreem phone or you can just bring a card or some thing like that," said the letter, dated Dec. 6, 1993.
Hurst always wondered what happened to the girl who wrote the letter, and recently shared it on Facebook in the hopes that he could find her.
On Friday, CBC News published a story about his efforts. That same day, Sellars's mother read the story and sent her the link for it. Sellars says once she looked at the handwriting, she knew it was hers and suddenly remembered writing the letter.
Looking back, Sellars says it wasn't the happiest time for her family. Her parents were in the process of divorcing, she was living with her mother and she wasn't seeing her dad as much as she would have liked.
"It wasn't an easy year," said Sellars.
Sellars, whose middle name is Willow, says she remembers actively trying to disguise her identity in the letter, worried her mother might be hurt or upset.
In retrospect, Sellars thinks her mother knew more than she let on at the time, as she told her daughter she helped her address and mail the envelope.
Sellars, now a reporter with CKBW in Bridgewater, N.S., says it was humbling to realize what a profound impact a letter she'd forgotten about has had on Hurst's life.
"There is a comfort in the idea that even when I was feeling really lonely, or going through a tough time, that somewhere out there there was a stranger, someone I had never met, who was actively thinking of me and hoping good things for me. It was really touching. It's a nice Christmas story for me, too," she said Sunday.
'I felt like a big brother'
After reading the story, Sellars contacted Hurst and they spoke on the phone Friday night.
"It was wonderful, we laughed … I felt like a big brother, I felt like I'd known her forever," Hurst said of the conversation. "It was really a relief. She just seems like such a wonderful person that it even made it better."
Hurst also says it was perhaps fitting they didn't connect until now.
"She told me that the family didn't stay together, but she was so proud of living with her mom and being raised by her mom. She sounded like she really has her act together," he said.
Sellars says she was moved that Hurst kept the letter and made it a part of his Christmas tradition to display it. They agreed that he would keep the letter, as it meant more to him.
Hurst says he plans to continue to bring it out at Christmas.
"My first reaction will be I'll smile, and think of her. Then I'll go on to thinking about what we can do for all the new Candyces that happen every year," he said.