If you’ve been nice this year, what should you do to ensure you get what you want for Christmas? Well, thousands of kids figure, writing a letter to Santa can’t hurt your chances.

This year, kids across the country have written letters to Santa Claus in hopes of him coming through with all the items on their wish-lists. Because of recent action by the United States Postal Service, however, many kids may be sorely disappointed this year.

Every year, the thousands of letters that are addressed to St. Nick at the North Pole are directed to Operation Santa locations in big cities across the country. Anyone with a gift-giving holiday spirit can sift through the letters, find one especially endearing or needy, and respond with a gift for the child on the other end.

Operation Santa: Boxes full of letters for the big man up north
Operation Santa: Boxes full of letters for the big man up north

The Postal Service has been running (and even promoting) this practice for over 100 years, but abruptly stopped the program Wednesday after a postal worker recognized a registered sex offender picking out a letter.

The man claimed he was merely trying to do a good deed, but officials nevertheless retrieved the letter and alerted the family of the child of the privacy breach.

Security and privacy concerns have developed in the last few years, though no specific instances prompted procedural changes. In 2006, upon the realization that it might not be wise to give out the names and addresses of children, the Postal Service began requiring people looking at letters to sign a form and show identification.

Many of the 500,000 would have already been answered in New York alone, but with 3,000 people expected to show up every day, many wishes of video games, dolls and world peace may very well go unanswered this year.