2011-11-29 21:28:00.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Dear Santa-

Where did the year go? It seems like just yesterday I was writing you and yet, here we are once again with me in charge of writing to you with our Observatory Christmas List. Since this will be the fifth time I have written you in my (nearly) six years up here, I have the process down to an exact science: 1. Hand written note mailed out to you no later than November first. 2. Email sent to you no later than Thanksgiving. 3. A preliminary New Hampshire forecast for Christmas (hopefully it’ll be a snowy one) no later than December first. 4. A reminder on my calendar for a follow-up forecast no later than 36 hours out from December 25th. And now this shift, (5.) I am sending you our list via our Observer Comments since I know you follow them daily to check if we have been naughty or nice.

Once again, in my opinion, we all have been good lil’ weather observers. We have acted kindly to all our interns, guests, friends, families and pets. Even Marty, our cat, although odd and grumpy at times, has been acting abnormally nice as of recent. Similar to how I look forward to Eggnog Lattes this time of year; I think Marty looks forward to the special blend of Christmas cat nip that you bring him. And when you arrive, don’t be surprised if he rubs up against you and meows at you. I know it’s a bit odd coming from him but I guess it comes with age. And Santa, if you’re going to give him anything this year like in years past, please make it cat treats or food. While he does enjoy toys, we have more than enough up here and are running out of places to store it all.

When you arrive at NH State Parks Sherman Adams Building, you should find things pretty much the same as they were last year, with one major exception, the kitchen chairs. We got some great new metallic chairs that really spruce up the dining area. From personal experience I know they can make some noise if bumped into while rummaging through our fridge or pantry for additional milk and cookies. So my advice would be to stick to what we put out for you and you should have no trouble sneaking in and out in little to no time.

So once again, if it’s not too much trouble, could you get us one or more of the following?

1. Observatory Memberships – Not for the observers but for other boys and girls on your list around the world. Since we are membership supported, these gifts would be the gifts that keep giving over the year. And this year, when you give a gift membership, you receive a FREE limited edition Observatory ornament for you and the misses to enjoy (or re-gift if you so choose).

2. Gift Donations – This will help lighten your bag of toys and help us out in the long term.

3. Edutrips – Again, not for the observers but for the other boys and girls on your list around the world. This gives us the gift of funding and in return, someone on your list gets the opportunity to stay and learn on top of the northeast’s highest peak. Plus, it gives me someone new to talk to and interact with. And since I know you and the misses anniversary is around this time, you might want to reserve a spot on the special New Years trip we have planned. You’ve come up in the past on one of these so it’s time to come up and visit in a non-professional capacity once again.

4. Eastern Mountain Sports Equipment – Again, not for us as they have provided us with everything we need to stay warm and dry up here. This is a recommendation for if you plan on using EMS for gifts for others on your list. If you use the link I provided, you give them a gift and us a gift as a percentage of your purchase will go towards helping us out as well.

5. Office Supplies – We work like an office, so anything you can send that will cut costs for us is great: mechanical pencils, refill lead (0.7mm preferably), pens, printer paper, etc. The only exception is Post-it Note pads since the past few years you’ve gone a bit overboard with these and I think we have more than I will ever be able to use in my time here.

6. Batteries – Preferably AAA, AA or D’s as our headlamps, flashlights and rescue/research equipment use these.

7. Gift cards – We go shopping for food weekly at Hannaford, Shaw’s or Walmart but Lowes, Home Depot, or anywhere else in North Conway is fine. Well, you know what’s here.

8. Sporting Equipment – Can you ever have enough sporting equipment? We always prefer foam types to lower the risk of breaking anything on us or around us. But we will take any kind of sports “toys.” I think topping the list this year are plastic toboggan sleds since we are running a bit low this year. And the cheaper the better since these don’t tend to last us a whole winter with all the ice we have to run them down on.

9. Calendars – We need at least one to keep track of the days up here. Keep them “clean” for the public to view like nature scenes or humorous ones. Plus, if you buy it from our online shop, it gives us a calendar and financial support (two birds, one stone).

10. Board Games – To keep us entertained as a group from time to time. We already love playing Cranium, Apples to Apples, Things, Scrabble, and Loaded Questions. So if you know of any others like these, I know we’d love them. The more offbeat, the better it seems.

11. Candles – Preferably the soy-based, large jar type or tumblers like the ones from Soyfire for example. They liven up our living quarters and make it feel more like home.

12. Candy and gum – Since I know you eat a lot of cookies and sweets, I know you can relate. Can we ever really have enough? And there are so many exotic flavors out there. Just last week I saw coconut and pretzel M&M’s – can you believe that? What will they think of next?

13. Tupperware – While we have a hodgepodge of various storage containers, it would be nice to get a complete set. Since we acted as volunteers this week, we discovered that it can be frustrating trying to find a lid and container that match straight out of the cabinet.

14. Snow – the more the better! October started out awesome but as of this writing, there is almost nothing left. So you would make us and all our neighbors happy with a bit more of the white gold that we use for skiing, sledding, climbing, etc.

15. Surprise us yet again! – Sometimes the coolest gifts are the ones you didn’t think you needed.

That’s about it Santa. Remember that we don’t mind second hand items so long as they are in good, clean and usable condition. This helps out the environment and extends the life on perfectly usable stuff. We are really not picky and are just thankful for anything. Also, if you want a particular type of cookie and drink, like last year, you can post your preferences in our forums of our Facebook page. We will try once again to keep the plate full, but you’ve had our volunteers cooking, it’s hard to pass up sometimes; so delicious!

Since it will be my shift up for Christmas once again this year, I will ensure that everything is in order for your arrival: a clear deck and path to the door, well greased doors, deiced stairs, clean living quarters, decorated Christmas tree, and a full plate of cookies next to a glass of milk/nog/soy (but not Soy Nog, that just zaps the joy out of the holidays with one sip). And I will keep you posted on the forecast leading up to and on the night of your arrival. Travel safe and see you then.

Thanks and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays-


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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