They all start out the same — “Dear Santa” — but from there, you never know what kids are going to write to jolly old St. Nick.

Some get right to the point and tell Santa what they want for Christmas, while others ask Santa a lot of questions.

Whatever the letters contain, the folks at Thee Barker Store have been making sure that Santa receives and answers each and every one personally for more than five years.

The store has a "Letters to Santa" box on display from the day after Thanksgiving until about a week before Christmas, and as children drop off their hand-written letters, manager Carol Ander and some of her helpers see that they are delivered in plenty of time.

On a recent visit, 4-year-old Reina Straub and her brother Drake, 3, dropped off their Christmas wishes at the store. The Straub kids have some fairly simple requests — nail polish for Reina and puzzles for Drake — but some other requests Santa has received this year are a little more complicated. One child wants a lizard. Another wants to know what “Ho, ho, ho” means.

But whatever is in the letters, each and every child is assured to get a personal reply from Santa — along with a packet of “Magic Reindeer Flying Food.”

This year, Santa is going to be particularly busy with Thee Barker Store letters. Ninety-six children from Royalton-Hartland Elementary School are dropping off their letters at the store, and after Santa has read and answered each one, he’ll have them delivered back to the school.

Helper Julie Obermiller said it’s the most letters ever collected at the store, but she’s sure Santa will be up to the task.

“Santa thinks it’s important to answer every letter, because every child put so much effort into them,” said Obermiller (who has Santa on speed-dial).

Santa agreed to share some of the more entertaining letters.

• “Hi. I’m Evan. Have you been a little bit cranky? My Dad has been. If you see my cats on Christmas, you can pet them. They are very nice. Have a safe ride back to the North Pole.”

• “Hi, I’m Tandra. I don’t know if I was good or bad this year. If I was bad I’m not expecting any toys because I still have lots. If I was good this year I want a skateboard, Anna dress and a stuffed singing Santa. How is Mrs. Claus doing? I hope you really like my cookies!”

• “Try and guess who I am. I am your old friend Veronica. I want a real pet lizard please. Is the Grinch still bothering you? I hope you and the elves, your dog and Mrs. Claus have a good Christmas.”

• “Do you like sports? I like skateboarding and I have been good this year. Please do not knock over my Christmas tree this year! Jesse”

• “My favorite song Christmas song is Jingle Bells. What is yours? How do you eat so many cookies in one night ? How did you become Santa Claus? Which Reindeer is your favorite? Do you really wear glasses? Do your elves like to dance? Do you like to dance? What color is your sleigh? Do you and Mrs. Claus have any children? How do you get into some people’s houses if they don’t have chimneys? Have a great Christmas! Abigail”

• “I’ve always wondered, how do you eat all of those cookies on Christmas? I bet you get a belly ache in the morning. Do the elves really have pointy ears? What’s your favorite animal? As you know I will always leave cookies for you and eight carrots for the reindeer! Deanna”

• “Do you love rockin’ around the Christmas tree? That is my favorite Christmas song! Scott”

• “My name is Lillianna. Are you feeling good this year? I will leave you cookies and milk because you are the best Santa. I believe in Christmas and I always will!”

• “Hello. Is it true you go all over the world? What do you do for fun? What does Ho Ho Ho mean?  Owen”

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