You all asked some great questions again this year. Thank you! I am going to spread my answers over two days… today and tomorrow… as you asked a lot of good questions and I am really tight on time this week. I hope you find this informative and entertaining.
Q. Why when you were at the Macy’s parade did you say “Happy Thanksgiving” instead of what I have always heard you say “Merry Christmas”? What’s wrong with saying Merry Christmas? Isn’t that what you’re about I mean your Santa Claus but don’t you and Christmas go together?
A. You must not have heard all of it… I said “Happy Thanksgiving” and “Merry Christmas” interchangeably. It was Thanksgiving, after all. And for the record… There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying “Merry CHRISTmas”. In fact, I make a point of saying it rather than Happy Holidays (though on occasion I do say Happy Holidays too). If people stop saying Merry Christmas then we will eventually lose the Christmas holiday altogether.
Q. Santa, you are known primarily for your generosity to children (I’ve often heard you referred to as the Patron Saint of Children when people call you St. Nicholas) and have made so many happy with the things you’ve brought over the years. I’m curious as to what is on Santa’s wish list?
A. Thank you for asking. It is very thoughtful of you to be concerned. I really don’t want anything material. Realistically, I can have anything material… I have been blessed with the means such that I could either build or acquire virtually anything. What I want most is peace and joy for the world. I know it sounds cliche but it is truly what I want most. Ironically, it’s one of the few things I can’t make happen… if I could, I would have done it years ago. Instead, I just do my part, as small as it may be in the grander scheme. And, of course, selfishly, I want to continue to be loved by those closest to me… I never want to lose their love and admiration.
Q. Do you prefer a certain type of milk?
A. Cow’s milk to begin with. And while I like full-on milk, I choose to drink fat free milk. It’s a choice I make for my health, not for the taste.
Q. My question is….Santa, do you ever get any rest?
A. Yes. Just not between late November and December 25th. I sleep about 2 hours a night during the build-up to Christmas Eve. Don’t get me wrong…. I work hard year round. In fact, most weeknights during the “off-season”, I sleep about 4 to 5 hours a night. But I do get rest. I catch up on the weekends when I sleep in. I often do not wake until almost noon on Saturdays during the off-season. And I take Sunday afternoon naps as well during the off-season. My vacations are also a key time to rest and recharge. Once I am on vacation, I completely relax and shut-down. So don’t worry… I do get rest. And during this Christmas season when I am burning the candle at both ends, I have an almost magical energy. I do get tired but it’s not that deep exhaustion you might expect given my schedule. Just the thought of Christmas Eve gets me revved up and ready to go whenever my energy levels might slide. Besides, I have December 26th to look forward to! I’ll spend that day like I am in a coma.
Q. Santa, what are your travel plans after the holidays? I know you like to spend time in Hawaii, but have you considered somewhere more exotic…possibly Southeast Asia perhaps?
A. It’s funny you should ask. I will go to Hawaii like I do every year but I do plan to go to Thailand… likely Koh Samui island… this spring. I hear it’s wonderful. And yes… I have vacationed a number of times, usually brief stays, in Southeast Asia. My favorite places in Southeast Asia include the Six Senses Hideaway in Vietnam and a number of different resorts in Phuket. Indonesia is nice as well. I am also considering Africa for a vacation this year.
Q. Santa, concerning your luscious beard I was wondering if any product is used. The way it shines and radiates your inner beauty leaves me breathless. What kind of sorcery are you practicing here? Have you ever considered cheating on Mrs. Claus?
A. I am so glad you like my beard. But who do you think I am?! Have you seen Mrs. Claus?! Are you nuts?! She is hot. Back to my beard though. I don’t do anything with it other than trim it to keep it from getting too wild. All my hair turned silvery white when I was still very young so I wasn’t too surprised that it was solid white when I did finally decide to grow a beard. I guess I was fortunate I didn’t have to deal with a salt & pepper beard. I can tell you though… more than a few marketing people have tried to convince me to dye it brown, cut it back to a goatee, or shave it off all together in an effort to update my image. I keep resisting. Partly because it’s tradition but mostly because Mrs. Claus really, really likes the beard.
Q. Why do my friends always get more than I do. Do you like them better?
A. Yes. Yes, I do like them better… NOT. I am just kidding, of course. The calculation to determine who gets what is very long and complex; too much so to describe here. But rest assured it is a fair process that is designed to best suit your personal needs. And as you well know, while your friends may occasionally get more than you do, you receive way more than many other people yourself. The key thing for you to take away is this: focus on what you have, count your blessings, and do not be envious of what other people have. You will live a much happier, fulfilled, and longer life if you can do that.
Q. Santa, do you really go to all the houses in 1 night?
A. I do. I had a similar question last year and I responded with the following: The key is North Pole Time. I am not the right person to explain exactly how it works. It is far too technical for me but, I can say that because we sit at the junction of all the time zones, there are some unique capabilities we have realized in moving easily between time zones. That – in and of itself – is not all that remarkable. But there is something magical about how we can travel within a time zone and return to the North Pole – no matter how long we have been gone – within the same hour we left as long as we arrive & depart from the Launch pad. The Launch pad is directly on the true North Pole. Time doesn’t stop so much as it “re-sets”. That’s not the best description either but it’s the closest I can relay at this point. It is this capability that we leverage to deliver to over 300M homes in a 24 hour period.
Q. Oh Santa Claus, how do you get into my house on Christmas Eve? We have a small chimney.
A. I am much thinner than I appear. You would be surprised at how many chimney’s I can actually get down. I had a similar question on this last year; here is how I responded: Where the chimneys are large enough for me (and many are; I’m not as big as you might think), I have a special dive that I use. But the most important thing for you to remember is that chimney diving is not for everyone. You have to be very well trained. I have trained for years. You should never try it under any circumstance.
So with all that said, the fact of the matter is that there are many houses where the chimney is too small for me. In those cases, I enter through other means. I have several scout teams of elves that go in ahead of me to
1) validate I can fit through the chimney.
2) identify alternate entry paths.
3) disable alarms.
4) confirm that everyone in the house is asleep.
With their advance information, I really don’t have any problems. Now… to your question about breaking and entering… technically it would be in almost every legal jurisdiction around the world except I have a huge legal team that has negotiated special rights for me that allow me to enter. Those rights are only valid on Christmas Eve. And let’s face it, when you leave gifts, people don’t complain.
Now many cities around the world granted me the rights only if I leave gifts, which is why now in many places I just skip a house rather than leaving coal. Coal doesn’t legally qualify as a gift… so I just skip the houses in those jurisdictions completely if the residents are on the naughty list.
Q. What’s your thoughts on matchmaking Santa? Think for Christmas this year I could get clarity on finding a wife?
A. Russ, thank you for the question. As I have said many times before, I do not deliver wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, etc. I am also not much of a match-maker. That is really Mrs. Claus’ domain. As much as I hate to admit it because I often accuse her of meddling, the fact is she has an unbelievable knack of bringing couples together. My advice though for you is to stop trying so hard to find a wife. Just relax, be yourself, and take the time to enjoy the company & friendship of the women you date… don’t be in a rush to get serious. And don’t settle either. That’s the risk when you are just looking to find a wife – you end up marrying the first one to return your interest, whether or not she is truly the ‘one’. But trust me… when the ‘right one’ comes around, you will both know it. It will be undeniable. In the meantime, just be patient.
Q. My daughter has requested to be a mermaid for a day and nothing else – any idea how to overcome this?
A. I must receive 10,000 requests a year from little girls to “be a mermaid”. As you know, we can’t just go around changing people into mermaids. Even if we had that magical power (which I do not!), it just wouldn’t be right. There are way too many unintended and unwanted consequences. Here are a few ideas: There are quite a few mermaid outfits available at costume stores and online. I checked our inventory and we are out but I am sure you could find one.
Alternatively, you could take her to a water park for a day and let her experience what it might be like to be a mermaid. There are lots of water parks out there but if you could somehow get to the water parks at Disney World, you’d certainly be able to weave a “Little Mermaid” theme throughout the vacation.
Q. Do you ever post any pictures? Can I get a picture of everyone at the North Pole?
A. You know, I never have posted any pictures of the North Pole Center. Your questions made me start to think about it and I have decided that I will start posting pictures next year. The primary reason I haven’t posted pictures is simply that I’m a blogging novice… even after doing this blog for a few years. I haven’t taken the time to learn how to upload them. But Mrs. Claus has told me she would show me how if I want to start doing that. So look for pictures starting sometime mid-next year!
(Update: Security detail here at the North Pole has deemed it too invasive into the lives of everyday elves, to post pictures. Sorry.)
Q. I have trouble deciding what to get my own niece and nephew for Christmas, how on earth do you decide what each child around the world should have for Christmas?!?
A. It can be a challenge at times; however, I usually have the benefit of a request directly from the child. With email, internet, and all the other various mediums available to kids, they find a way to get their requests to me more often than not, even if they don’t visit me at a mall. And when I don’t hear from a child, we actually have quite a bit of consumer information available about each child.
We have a full team of elves dedicated to gathering “consumer intelligence”… they crawl websites, conduct surveillance, poll parents & friends, and use a variety of highly confidential intelligence gathering techniques to compile a complete set of information on each child. If we can not identify a specific request, we use very sophisticated consumer analytics against all of that data to match the best gifts with each child. We find it very effective. Unfortunately, I can’t give you access to it. I’d suggest you resort to asking the parents….
Q. How do you REALLY know if we have been good or bad – naughty or nice? Does my mom have your number?
A. Trust me… I know. And yes, your mom does know how to get a hold of me if there is something to report. To determine the “nice list”, there is a fairly complex algorithm that we apply, but, it really just boils down to the basics here: Do you treat others as you would treat yourself?
Q. This might be too personal a question, but are you on the naughty or nice list this year?
A. Technically, since it’s my list, I’m not on either one. But I do think I’d be on the nice list. Now don’t get me wrong…. even ol’ Santa (ugh… I don’t like talking about myself in the third person…) is not perfect. I am as human and flawed as anyone. None of us are perfect. That is the exact reason why the true meaning of Christmas is so important. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t have needed the birth of Christ.
Q. What kinds of animals do you and Mrs. Claus have other than the reindeer? Any cats or dogs?
A. Mrs. Claus & I have several animals around. In addition to traditional livestock (i.e. cows, pigs, and chickens) that we maintain at our farm just outside the Village, we do have a horse (named Trigger), dog (a Great Pyrenees named Joe), and cat (named Susie). I love that dog. He follows me all around the North Pole Village and often joins me on my runs. Mrs. Claus probably prefers the cat. A few years back, Mrs. Claus’ brother talked us into raising Alpacas. We bought 12 but that didn’t go so well. We ended up giving them away to a couple in Idaho.
Q. There are so many store “Santas” and the like around what should I tell the children on who they are?
A. More times than you might think, that’s actually me! I get around to more stores & malls that you might imagine. I leverage North Pole Time (see above) and the speed of the reindeer to make as many stops as I can. But you are correct… it is not always me, the real Santa. So when you see someone that is clearly not me, there is a very good chance that they are one of the contractors we have hired as part of our Intelligence Agency. It is one of the many ways that we gather information on what children want for Christmas. Of course, there are always just average people that want to dress up like me… and if that helps put themselves and other people in the Christmas spirit, then its just fine by me.
Q. Why is your coat red and white why not blue and green?
A. This is an interesting question because blue actually is my favorite color. I like the darker & deeper blues. Green, particularly forest greens, also happens to be my second favorite color. And I’ve been told I look much better in blues & greens given my skin tone and blue eyes. But, I chose red and white for a very simple reason, tradition.
Q. What is your best advice to parents to keep their babies from being afraid of you?
A. A lot of babies are afraid you are going to leave them with me or that they may have to go somewhere with me. Start with reminding them that you aren’t going anywhere… that you will be right there where they can see you the entire time. Also, if you think your baby is going to be afraid of me, offer to come up and visit with me first. You can use that time to let me know you think your baby is going to be scared. I’ll tone down my Ho, Ho, Hos a little and try to speak a little softer. That helps. If you have a treat or baby toy your child really likes, you can slip that to me as well and I can then offer it to the baby. And if you ask me, I’m willing to stand up and walk over to where you are holding the baby as well… then we can walk back together to my seat. But all of that advice is for right before you come visit me. I suggest you start a day ahead of time telling them that they are going to see me the next day. Show them one of the Christmas shows with me in it…. that goes a long way toward them feeling like they know me. I hope that helps!
Q. What type of music do you listen to?
A. Pretty much everything. I like everything from Foo Fighters to Nat King Cole. My powersong was Greenday’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” for the longest time but I just switched to SYML’s “Where is my Love”. My favorite Christmas carol is “Silent Night, Holy Night” and my favorite modern Christmas song is “Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer.”
Q. Why do you use reindeer instead of horses?
A. Because the reindeer fly. And they fly really fast.
Q. Is Rudolph still alive?
A. Absolutely! He will be leading my team again this Christmas Eve. Keep an eye out on Dec 24th for that glowing red nose!