Finally, proof that Santa really does check his list twice to find out who’s been naughty and nice.
And thanks to St. Nick’s diligence, along with a little help from a cartoonist in Halifax, two little boys were removed from the wrong side of the ledger just in time for Christmas.
But not before a few anxious tears were shed.
Earlier this month, editorial cartoonist Michael de Adder crafted an illustration for the Toronto Star that included Santa writing his naughty list. He picked two random names, Johnny and Billy, for the drawing.
That came as quite a shock to Johnny and Billy Stephenson, twins aged three and a half from Pickering. And it was particularly distressing to their five-year-old brother Brady, who began crying when he imagined his siblings’ toyless Christmas.
“Brady is the nicest, kindest kid ever,” said his mother, Vicki. “He was very upset.”
True to his nature, Brady decided to set the record straight, brainstorming all the good things about his brothers in a from-the-heart letter that his mother typed out for him.
“Dear Santa,” it began. “Please put Billy and Johnny on the nice list. Billy plays together with me. He shares his toys and takes turns. Johnny plays with me too. Billy sometimes is silly. Johnny is silly with Billy and it makes me laugh! Johnny shared his Halloween candy with me and also Billy. They both watch movies with me and play outside with me. They watched my Christmas concert and clapped for me. They also help me build stuff. We decorated gingerbread cookies for you already, but we just ate one each. I love my brothers so much and they want toys for Christmas too! Love, Brady.”
Vicki emailed Brady’s letter to the Star, hoping it would find its way to Santa. Editorial page editor Andrew Phillips recognized the urgency of the situation and forwarded it to de Adder in Halifax, asking if there was any way he could help get Johnny and Billy back on the good list.
At first, de Adder had a good laugh, but then, like one of Santa’s elves, he set to work creating a new cartoon.
“It was impossible to not do it after reading the letter,” he said. “You read it and it reads almost like a Christmas movie. Like something out of “A Christmas Story” or “Miracle on 34th Street.” You kind of can’t help but draw it.”
The new drawing, which took de Adder about three hours to create, shows an elf giving Santa a nice list with the names Johnny, Billy and Brady. As he hands it over, the elf says, “We received a letter from Brady. His twin brothers are back on the good list.”
The Star took a framed copy of the cartoon to the Stephenson family but Johnny and Billy had already been trying to do their best to get back in Santa’s good books.
At the mall, they reminded Santa that they should be on the nice list. And at their daycare Christmas party, Johnny dragged his mother over to see Santa to talk to him about getting off the naughty list.
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Now with the arrival of the new cartoon, it’s official.
“It’s going to be something they’ll love for the rest of their lives,” says Vicki.
So how did Johnny and Billy get their reprieve?
“Because,” says Brady. “I wrote a nice letter to Santa.”