Early every October Santa sits down to be interviewed by a media personality. This has been his tradition almost as long as there has been a modern media. This year, Santa sat down with long time political reporter Hugh Kelly of KLIP-TV. This year Santa addresses the state of the world, the elections, the importance of talking with parents and his concerns with the Chicago Cubs — again. Oh — and Santa tells a joke this year, too.
Q: Hello, Santa.
A:. Hello, Hugh. How are you?
Q: Fine, fine. I’ve got to ask you first thing — are you upset about the Cubs?
A:. [sighs] No, not really. They had a good season and finished well.
Q: Santa, they lost.
A: Well they still had a great season. Maybe next year will be their season.
Q: People have been saying that for a long time.
A: Me included. You gotta have hope.
Q: Don’t you think it is time to root for another team, Santa? I mean, it’s the Cubs, Santa. They’ve got a reputation and you do too now that you’ve long been such a Cubs fan. People are starting to talk.
A: Are they really? Well, it could be worse, I could be an Oakland Raiders fan.
Q: Very funny, Santa. I didn’t know Santa had a sarcastic side.
A: I’m just teasing. Everyone loves the Cubs because they really aren’t losers. They have a good season like this year, show a little heart and personality and you just know that one of these days they will rise to the level of champion. They are winners and that is why everyone loves them. Even you, Hugh, have to love the Cubs.
Q: Actually, I’m a big Cubs fan. I always have been. How did you know that, Santa?
A: Well, that’s my job — to know things about people. To see into their hearts.
Q: That’s a little creepy, Santa.
A: Some might see it that way, I suppose. But I mean no harm. I just want to help. And when you help someone you have to peer into their hearts.
Q: Well, I can understand seeing someone hurt by the side of the road and trying to help, Santa. But how in the world can you translate that into knowing whether or not someone is a Cubs fan?
A: Well, you’re right they are different. But if you spend time — and I mean a lot of time — in a heart and soul effort to help other people it changes who you are as a person. You develop skills and abilities you never knew you had. Kind of like a batting eye, I suppose you could say, on a professional hitter. Those guys spend their lives playing baseball from the youngest ages. As they progress level by level to the major leagues they refine skills the average person would never have with a baseball bat. It is the same thing with people skills. I don’t consider it a talent, I consider it a necessary skill in helping people.
Q: Yeah, but Santa…having access to that kind of ability is to have access to great power.
A: Yes, a power to do some good.
Q: But what if someone had that skill but didn’t possess your good intent?
A: Without the intent there is no developing the skill. We’re not talking about playing drums or making bread kind of skill here, Hugh. The basis for this skill is love. True love never begets evil.
Q; So to be Santa you HAVE to be good?
A: Yes, there is no such thing as a bad Santa.
Q: Oh, I don’t know about that.
A: Why? Because you read of people in the news who play Santa but do naughty things?
Q: Yes, exactly. That was one of the things I wanted to ask you about, Santa. You’ve had a very tough year in the media.
A: Well, not me exactly. But you’re right. The image of Santa Claus has taken a hit this year. It happens all the time.
Q: Can’t you do anything about that?
A: Not really.
Q: C’mon. You’re one of the most famous people in all the world. Arguably, aside from the President of the United States or a movie star or something you ARE the most famous person in the world. Can’t you get a trademark or something?
A: [laughs] No, no. I’m not interested in playing those games.
Q: But, Santa — don’t you have to protect yourself?
A: Yes, but the best way to protect myself is to just be myself. No matter how many fake Santas are out there the real one is going to do what he always does. He’ll spread love. He’ll bring good cheer. He’ll be a good example. He’ll try to love as many as he can.
Q: What would you say to those who portray you in a professional capacity?
A: Well, first, I’d say thank you.
Q: Really? After all that has happened this year? Do you realize that you have professional Santas out there fighting with each other, running for president in your name, building websites and making money selling everything from letters and phone calls from Santa to Santa diet plans and other money-making schemes. Doesn’t that bother you? All you can say is thank you to these greedy old guys?
A: The vast majority of them aren’t that way, Hugh. For all the bad press a few bad apples have gotten me there are hundreds more who work in relative anonymity for no money — just for the love of others. With a twinkle in their eye they carry the spirit of Christmas where ever they go. To them, I give a tip of the hat and a pat on the back. I love those guys.
Q: But Santa — think of the damage they do to your image!
A: Oh, baloney. I’ve had movies made that portray me poorly. There are commercials run that show me endorsing all kinds of terrible products, making me endorse bad habits and poor lifestyles. Music that is inappropriate is tied to me and all manner of written material that is false is produced against me. None of that matters. I’m still Santa. Those who know me and love me know what pure Christmas is. They don’t get turned by those who use me. Besides, if I get a trademark and go to court and get mean and nasty with these people will it really stop them? It would be like throwing bricks in the Grand Canyon. That is all I would do with my time. The best policy is to ignore them and to just be myself.
Q: So nothing they are doing ever gets you angry?
A: Well, I am a human being. When I see a person using the image of Santa to hurt a child I get very angry.
Q: But you cannot do anything about those guys.
A: That’s right. It is going to happen.
Q: But what about the kids, Santa? What happens if one of these guys says something to a child that might make them doubt or might hurt their feelings?
A: Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. When you see me somewhere and people are lined up you notice one thing right away. It is always children who want to sit on my lap and talk to me. If it weren’t for kids, there would be no Santa. A real kid can tell when they are talking to the real Santa. They just can’t be fooled.
Q: Santa, this looks to be a tough Christmas around the world.
A: Maybe so. But does that really matter?
Q: What do you mean?
A: I assume you’re talking about world economies?
Q: Yes, of course. Millions are facing unemployment. Billions have been lost. The future looks very bleak. It is going to be a terrible Christmas worldwide.
A: I don’t agree with that at all. I think we could have the best Christmas ever.
Q: How can you say that?
A: Christmas cannot be measured by nickels and dimes, Hugh. It doesn’t come from a store, it isn’t wrapped in a bow, it has nothing to do with stuff.
Q: Santa, Christmas is most definitely measured. Economists are saying this could be the worst Christmas since the 1930s.
A: And what do those economists say about the Cubs?
Q: What? I don’t understand.
A: My point is, what do economists really know about Christmas?
Q: Well, they seem to be universally saying that Christmas is going to be tough for people. Folks won’t be able to buy the things they want. Stores will be going out of business. Many won’t be able to afford get presents, eat food or travel to loved ones. It is going to be a terrible Christmas.
A: Economists might know a lot about money. But they know nothing of Christmas and they may even know less than nothing about people. I tell you that hearts this Christmas will be knit together more because of the economy. People will think more about others. They will get creative. Giving won’t be big and fantastic but it will be more heartfelt. And when that happens people enjoy Christmas more. I don’t wish any thing bad on anyone. I hate the idea that the world will have a few less stores. But economies come and go, favorite toys come and go, even Santa comes into and out of style, it seems. But Christmas always happens, even when there is less to go around. Sometimes, less is more.
Q: How much does the news reach you Santa?
A: Oh, I stay very informed of world affairs.
Q: So you know then about tornados and earthquakes? You know about wars and battles? You know about politics and elections?
A: Yes, of course. I have a whole staff of folks working in the North Pole Public Relations Department who monitor breaking news for me. And I read a lot of papers, too.
Q: Do you surf the Internet for news?
A: Yes, quite frequently.
Q: Then you must have opinions about certain things.
A: Yes, of course.
Q: So what then do you think about global warming? They say the polar ice caps are melting. I suppose you might know something about that.
A: Well, a little. I’m a scientist as well as a toymaker and former priest. If you recall a year or two ago I was given the business about reindeer emissions. It was very upsetting.
Q: Yes, I seem to recall something about that. Wasn’t there a group trying to get you to find a way to deliver presents without using reindeer?
A: Yes, what a silly notion. Santa without reindeer would be like Christmas without Santa. Very goofy.
Q: What ever happened to that group, Santa?
A: Well, they made a lot of noise right after Thanksgiving, raised a bunch of money and then moved on to a new cause just before the new year. Turns out they were professional protesters. The funny thing was they all still expected a visit from Santa.
Q: Do you see the effects of global warming at the North Pole?
A: You mean like having to take my surfboard with me to get to the sleigh?
Q: Right. Is the ground mushy? Do you have more of a year round tan?
A: I’m afraid to report that there hasn’t been any change at the North Pole at all. It’s still cold, snowy and pretty much isolated except for us.
Q: So are you saying global warming is a lie?
A: No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I don’t like to get into politics, Hugh. Hardly anything merry comes from it.
Q: Santa, it is an election year. Everyone is arguing.
A: So it seems. It is so sad.
Q: Are you interested in the U.S. elections?
A: Yes, mildly.
A: Well, I want to know what to pack on the sleigh when I visit the White House next year.
Q: So you don’t really care who lives in the White House?
A: Nope. It is just another house. It will have nice people living in it and I will need to visit them. That is all that is important.
Q: Has there ever been anyone in the White House you didn’t like?
Q: Really? I find that hard to believe.
A: Well, it’s true. Nobody in my history that I know of has ever been a bad person. People should think about that when they vote.
Q: It is kind of hard to think of them that way within weeks of an election.
A: [laughs] I suppose so. But if they scheduled those elections for Christmas Eve we’d all likely have a bit more love in our hearts when we vote, won’t we?
Q: You have an unusual way of seeing the world, Santa. Do you think people might be afraid that you’re out of touch? That you’re naïve? That you just don’t understand the modern world?
A: What’s to understand? You know, a man still puts his pants on the same way as he did two hundred years ago. The world and its people are not as modern as some think.
Q: Santa, despite these yearly interviews there is still a lot of doubt about you out there.
A: Yes, well, there are those who question whether or not man went to the moon, too. And they have photographic proof of that seen by billions of people worldwide on live television. What is your point?
Q: You seem to defy logic to many.
A: Really, how so?
Q: Well, getting around the world in one night. That’s a big one.
A: And I have answered that question many times.
Q: Yes, Santa. I know you have. But it is still so unbelievable.
A: What do you want me to do about it?
Q: What can we do about it? Show you on live TV on Christmas Eve night? Put a camera in your sleigh? Have you interviewed while you are delivering your presents?
A: Oh, that’s just silly. People will say that it is faked anyway. What is to be accomplished by following me around like that? It would take me twice as long to get around the world and some folks might miss Christmas entirely if that happens.
Q: What do you say to those who think the whole idea of Santa Claus is a bad idea?
A: I say ‘Merry Christmas’.
Q: That’s it? No defense of yourself?
A: No. I don’t have pollsters. I’m not running for anything. I’m just trying to help.
Q: Does it discourage you, Santa, to see declining belief in you and Christmas?
A: Well, I don’t see that.
Q: Well, surely you must think the world is an uglier place than, say, fifty years ago?
A: In some ways, yes. But in other ways, no. And don’t call me Shirley.
Q: Ha! Have you always been a joker, Santa?
A: I enjoy a good joke. I think laughing is important. Laughter is healthy, you need it like you need vegetables or chocolate or oxygen.
Q: Have you heard any good jokes recently?
A: Well, yes, a lady came up to me the other day and said I looked like Helen Brown.
Q: Ok, what’s the joke?
A: Well, I told her I didn’t look so good in green either.
Q:. [laughs] Ha! Santa, that’s hilarious!
A: See? Makes you feel better doesn’t it.
Q: Everyone seems to feel better around Santa.
A: Well, I think laughter is a good prescription for a Merry Christmas in 2008. With wars, elections, bad economies and such you just gotta laugh to get through it all.
Q: Is that your official advice for this year?
A: Yes, it is. Remember, we’re supposed to “make” merry — not buy it. It’ll be alright. If you don’t have money this year, celebrate by wrapping up something old and putting it under the tree. Try serving instead of giving. It will be a Merry Christmas indeed.
Q: But what about those losing their jobs? What do you say to them?
A: I say enjoy the time off with your families. It is an opportunity, not a problem.
Q; What about those who are sick this Christmas? How do you advise them?
A: I say allow love to heal you. Angels are all around you. Don’t dwell on your pain or your troubles. Pull out the calendar and count the days to Christmas. Look forward. You’ll feel better through the medicine of positive thinking.
Q: What about the disgruntled — those who worry about the economy or their money? Those who don’t have the elections go their way? Those worried about putting their kids through college, retiring or selling their homes? What do you tell those people?
A:. To them I say call your mother.
A: Yes, call home. Talk to a parent or if your are able, a grandparent. They have been predicting the end of the world ever since the beginning of the world. Every generation has had a crisis of some sort to endure and over come. To put your troubles in perspective take a long look at the past and learn the lessons of overcoming adversity. You can do it. A good talk with Mom will convince you.
Q: They shouldn’t just call Santa?
A: Well, they could write. I receive many letters each year from adults. It makes them feel better.
Q: Do you ever answer letters from adults?
A: Oh yes, when I can. We’re all kids, really. I cannot answer every letter, but I try to get to as many as I can.
Q: Are there big plans for Christmas this year in the Claus house?
A: Yes, of course.
Q: Tell me about Christmas at your house, Santa.
A: Well, I usually get back on Christmas morning. As you know, Mrs. Claus usually hops on the sleigh with me in Hawaii and she comes with me to deliver the last presents on the islands of the sea in the North Pacific and Alaska before heading home. There is usually a crowd there to meet us and they are usually very anxious because nobody at the North Pole can open their presents until I get home. Most of the world has to wait for Santa to leave to open presents but at the North Pole they have to wait until Santa gets back.
Q: Then what, Santa?
A: Well, we have a nice brunch and enjoy each other’s company most of the day. We sometimes take a little nap in the afternoon but then get together again in the evening to enjoy each other. We sit around and talk. We watch the kids have their fun. It is a blissful day.
Q: You sound so normal, Santa.
A: I’m just a regular guy, Hugh. I love Christmas, fast sleighs, and hoping for the Cubs. I am as normal as they come.