Santa met this year with Jeff Westover, editor of My Merry Christmas.com, where these interviews have been hosted for over a decade. As you know, once a year and only one a year does Santa sit down with a member of the media. Santa grants these interviews only if they are published verbatim and do not include any editorial commentary from the interviewer. In this yearís interview Santa discusses the tough economy, the Chicago Cubs, recent news events and, more than ever, reveals new information about the love of his life, Mrs. Claus.
Jeff: Thank you, Santa, for selecting us to be your interviewer this year.
Santa: My pleasure. I meet a good many people through your website.
Jeff: We heard rumors that maybe Mrs. Claus would join you this year in the interview.
Santa: We discussed it. She is very shy, you know.
Jeff: Is she?
Santa: Yes, yes. She doesnít like to be noticed. She doesnít want anyone to think she does the things she does for attention.
Jeff: Why would anyone think that?
Santa: Oh, you would be amazed at the silly things some people will think.
Jeff: True -- but of Mrs. Claus?
Santa: Yes, even Mrs. Claus. The media out there can be vicious.
Jeff: Yes, we have learned that over time. Is that why you donít do your interview with the famous media?
Santa: Partly. There are some good people in the major media. But I like the little guys. They tell the story better.
Jeff: We are definitely one of the little guys. In fact, Iím afraid that when we publish your interview that people wonít take it serious. They will say we are not objective in our reporting because we believe in Santa Claus.
Santa: Let them think what they want, Jeff. They donít have to read it if they donít like it.
Jeff: I mean no disrespect Santa to you but you must understand that one of the enduring mysteries that have been discussed on our site for years now surrounds Mrs. Claus.
Jeff: Yes Ė what is her first name? This question just wonít go away. Elf Ernest has addressed it many times yet we get email after email begging us for the answer.
Santa: Well, now. Theyíll just have to keep asking. There are some things Mrs. Claus asks to keep private and that is one of them.
Jeff: You wonít tell us?
Santa: Santa canít break a promise. So no, I wonít say.
Jeff: But whatís the big deal, Santa? Everybody has a first name.
Santa: Yes, and so does Mrs. Claus. But she doesnít think that is anyoneís business outside of the family and her close friends.
Jeff: These are children who do most the asking, Santa.
Santa: Yes, but we wouldnít let a child play with matches if he asked, would we? We wouldnít tell a child all the scary details of what goes on in a war. We donít tell children it is ok to jump off cliffs or to swim in shark infested waters Ė even though some grown-ups do things like that. Sometimes, when it comes to kids, it is ok to say no or Iíll tell you later.
Jeff: It is hard for them to understand this one, Santa. Especially those little girls out there who so look up to Mrs. Claus.
Santa: I understand, but as a favor to my wife, I do not discuss her first name.
Jeff: Do you think kids accept that?
Santa: Kids these days have to accept a lot of things they donít like. I see the letters, I get them all the time and youíre right. Kids always ask that question. Even when they visit me they will ask me in person and Iíll tell them the same thing: thatís Mrs. Claus. Even I call her Mrs. Claus.
Jeff: You do?
Santa: Yes, much of the time. Oh, Iíll call her sweetheart or dear or something like that a lot. Many married people who are close donít like to use their real names when addressing each other. It feels so common for them. But there are lots of times when I will simply call her Mrs. Claus -- mostly in public, as a way to show respect and to set an example for others.
Jeff: I understand that. My wife and I donít call each other by our own names either. But do you expect kids to understand that?
Santa: Yes, I do. I think it is ok to have expectations of children. I believe one of the great wrongs in the world today is the familiarity between children and adults. Children should not address school teachers by nicknames or first names. They should use proper names. I think with most adults children come in contact with should be addressed formally. It is one of the progressive mistakes of society around the world, I think, to allow children to address adults as peers. It is simply good manners to address adults as Mr. or Mrs. or Ms.
Jeff: So you want kids to call you Mr. Santa? Or, Mr. Claus?
Santa: No, Santa is a title. Many kids donít realize it but it is very respectful for them to call me Santa. My first name is Nicholas. Some call me Kris, as in Kris Kringle, another name I use. But almost everyone calls me Santa. And I love that.
Jeff: So Santa is a title?
Santa: Yes, yes. Iím surprised that you, of all people, didnít know that, Jeff!
Jeff: Oh, Iím sorry Santa. I guess I learn new things about you all the time.
Santa: Yes, that is an important part of belief. Belief means you are open to always gaining new intelligence. That is the essence of faith itself Ė to know there is more to know.
Jeff: Santa, you have a unique view on history. You have lived longer and seen much compared to all other people. Is the world falling apart, in your opinion?
Santa: What do you mean?
Jeff: Are people more mean to others? Is there more unhappiness in the world? Is there less peace?
Santa: Well, there can never be enough peace, thatís for sure. But no, I think in many ways the world has become better over time. And it will become better yet, in my opinion.
Jeff: Santa, youíre an optimist then?
Santa: Oh yes, very much so. We have made a few mistakes as human beings and some of our mistakes we make over and over. But we really have made some progress. There is not as much hunger in the world, though it still exists. There is not as much greed in the world, though it still exists. There are wars, but not as many. There are those who still treat children poorly, though not as many. Little by little, things are improving in this old, wonderful world of ours.
Jeff: Last year you spoke very eloquently about the world condition heading into Christmas. Iím afraid things are not much better this year, Santa.
Santa: You mean the economy and unemployment?
Jeff: Yes, definitely. More people are out of work this year than last year. Fewer people are going to celebrate Christmas this year, I think. They just donít have the money.
Santa: Oh, I completely disagree. Last Christmas was wonderful and it had nothing to do with jobs and money. I saw more giving by those who had less last year than I ever saw when those same people had more. It means more to give when you have less. That is the great lesson of Christmas. It is not about giving much it is about giving what you can. Christmas isnít measured in what you get it is measured in what is given. It always has been.
Jeff: Have you seen times this hard before?
Santa: Oh, I have seen much worse. I donít mean any disrespect to folks who are struggling right now. I love them and my heart goes out to them. But if we all want to have a Merry Christmas we best get to giving with what we have and forget about those things that trouble us. These are blessed times.
Jeff: Santa, I have to ask: canít you do anything about the Cubs? They just declared bankruptcy, you know.
Santa: Yes, I read that. Very sad. Alas, Iím just Santa. Not God. I think the Cubs could use a few things that I canít fit in a stocking. A good left-hander or two, I suppose.
Jeff: Do you ever go to baseball games or sporting events?
Santa: Sometimes, I do. I love sports. I love to play sports. But it is hard for me to go to games a lot because kids from all over will skip the game and then stand in line to come sit on my lap.
Jeff: Do you get recognized everywhere?
Santa: Yes, pretty much. So I watch a lot of stuff on television.
Jeff: How do you handle the attitudes of sports figures?
Santa: Are you talking about Michael Jordan and his Hall of Fame speech?
Jeff: Well, yes, Santa, I am. How did you know?
Santa: [frowns] Thatís been bothering me, too.
Jeff: What does Santa do about adults behaving badly? Michael Jordan really surprised me in that speech. Then there was the Kanye West thing. And donít forget that guy with the balloon hoax. What does Santa do about people like that?
Santa: You mean, do I put coal in their stockings?
Jeff: Yeah, is that what you do?
Santa: No, thatís an old myth. I never do that. I donít deliver switches or things like that either. That would be mean and Santa could never be mean.
Jeff: So what do you do about people like that?
Santa: I usually have a little talk with their mothers, if I can.
Jeff: Really? Youíre going to talk to Michael Jordanís mom?
Santa: Sure! Most of these boys would never have become successful if it werenít for their mothers. They might not listen to Santa or even to common sense but they will hear plenty from their Moms. Santa talks to moms all over the place.
Jeff: Wow, Iíd love to be a fly on the wall when Michael Jordan gets chewed out by his mother.
Santa: [laughs] So would I!
Jeff: Do you go to the homes of the rich and famous? If so, why? They have so much already.
Santa: I focus on the children, thatís where I go. It doesnít matter, rich or poor. Every kid deserves a visit from Santa.
Jeff: Kids do ask more about you than adults. I have some questions here written by kids that Elf Ernest gave to me. Can you answer some of their questions?
Santa: Iíd be glad to.
Jeff: Raymond Marshall of Beaumont, Texas asks: how fast can Santaís sleigh fly?
Santa: Well, I canít say exactly because it always seems to get faster all the time. Letís just say I have no problem going super-sonic. This yearís sleigh will be a record breaker. The test runs have been fantastic. The last test actually set my beard on fire.
Jeff: Wow, Santa! Thatís big news. Did you get hurt?
Santa: No, no. Iím fine. It got singed just a little and Mrs. Claus trimmed it up nice for me when I got back. But it was a great run. Lots of fun.
Jeff: Does that hurt the reindeer, Santa?
Santa: Not at all. They love it more than I do. And none of them got burned, of course.
Jeff: Is flying hard for reindeer? Is it dangerous?
Santa: No, it is as natural as walking. As for danger, no, I donít think it is. There is far less danger for them in the sky than it is for them on the ground.
Jeff: Shytianna Rhodes of Brooklyn writes: Do you really eat all those cookies in every house?
Santa: [laughs] Yes, I usually do. Some of you kids leave a LOT of cookies out and sometimes Iíll pack them with me on the sleigh, too. But Christmas cookies are fuel for Santa. It is a really long day for me and the cookies keep my energy up.
Jeff: Four year old Donnie Velasquez from El Paso wants to know: why do you wear red?
Santa: Oh, thatís a great question from Donnie. Hey, Donnie Ė tell your Aunt Consuelo I said ďFeliz Navidad!Ē ok? I just love Donnie and his family. They have a great Christmas tradition in their home. I wear red for many reasons. It is a Christmas color. It is my favorite color, too. It is cheerful and makes people happy. In the dark of night, in a snow storm or a sand storm, I can be seen when I wear red. So it is worn for safety too.
Jeff: Are you ready for a question from Sammie Clark?
Santa: [giggles] Yes, Sammie likes to ask the toughies. Those schools in San Diego really like to teach the kids to think, donít they?
Jeff: Ok, here goes. Sammie wants to know how a fat man like Santa can fit in a tiny chimney like the one she has at her house. Those are her words, Santa, not mine.
Santa: [laughs] It is not the size of the man, nor the size of the chimney that matters. It is the size of the heart. Every worthwhile thing takes belief to accomplish. And thatís all I have to say about that.
Jeff: But Santa, what about houses without chimneys? Do you visit those too?
Santa: I donít need a chimney or even a house to visit a child. Iíve visited kids who live in tents, in caves, in cars or under trees. It doesnít matter.
Jeff: Nolan Gentry of Sydney, Australia writes: how is it possible for Santa to do the impossible like get around the world in one night or know if children are good or bad?
Santa: I study. I am a scientist. Nothing I do is impossible. There is an explanation and a method for everything. I have lots of smart people who work with me from around the world. There is a lot more to Santa than just Santa himself. I know Nolan and I love his mind. He doesnít ask this question because he doubts Santa. He asks this question because he will one day be a scientist too. He is a very, very talented boy.
Jeff: Wow, Santa. Youíre a scientist? Do you have a laboratory?
Santa: [laughs] Well, not like Iím Dr. Frankenstein or anything. But yes, I love science. I love to learn. A lot of people race to get done with school. I hope I never get done going to school.
Jeff: Interesting, Santa. Are you good at math?
Santa: Is that a question from a kid?
Jeff: No, sorry. From me. I was never good at math and so I was never good at science as a result.
Santa: No, Iím not as good at math as I should be. Math is like music. You have to practice it, kind of like playing the piano. The more you do it the better it becomes. You are better at math than you know.
Jeff: Did my mother tell you to say that?
Santa: [laughs] Yes, she did, once upon a time.
Jeff: Ok, Santa. Final question here from 7 year old Abby Knight of Vancouver. How can I become one of Santaís elves?
Santa: Good question, I get this a lot. The answer is very simple: first, never stop being a kid. Second, always believe in Santa. Third, be on the look out at all times Ė you have to develop the skill of helping others as much as you possibly can. Fourth, get a good education Ė read a lot, work hard, develop good habits. Fifth, call me or write as much as you can. If I have a special place for you, Iíll put you to work. There are elves working for Santa all over the world Ė millions of them. And we always have a need for more.
Jeff: Santa, I've got to ask you one more time -- is there anyway we can get a chance to talk with Mrs. Claus, too?
Santa: I will discuss it with her again. If you promise to be nice to her with your questions -- and she knows who you are, so that helps -- maybe together we can talk her into coming next year.
Jeff: Thank you, Santa. Is there anything else youíd like to tell the world at this time?
Santa: Yes, of course. Merry Christmas!
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