As we start our trek into the Holiday Season, it is customary for Santa to sit down with a member of the media to discuss the issues of the day and the latest happenings at the North Pole. This Year, Santa sat down with Austin Ball of the Madison Gazette:
Austin: Santa, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to interview you. It is definitely the highlight of my career.
Santa: Well Austin, you were a bit persistent. My media relations people tell me that you submitted a request every day this past year. Plus lets be truthful, your career as a journalist is only a year and a half old. So why did you want to interview me so bad?
Austin- Well Santa, I’ve always been a huge fan. I’m sure you hear that a lot though.
Santa- Yes, I do.
Austin- My first day on the job I asked my editor who his dream interview would be. I expected him to say Queen Elizabeth, President Obama, or Pope Francis. Somebody with lots of influence in the world. I never expected him to say that Santa was his dream interview.
Santa- So you don’t think I have any influence?
Austin- No no, that’s not what I meant. Of course you do. Every child looks up to Santa.
Santa- You don’t think adults look to me for guidance though? That I have no influence over any of the leaders in the world?
Austin- No, it’s not that I don’t think adults care about Santa it’s just that when I think of power players on the world stage; Santa is not the first name that comes to mind.
Santa- Remember this Austin, just because you don’t hear my name in the press other than at Christmas time, doesn’t mean that I’m not out there trying to make the world a better place all year. It’s just that I’m not seeking out the attention like some people do. I think if you look hard enough, you will find that there are millions of people out there working hard every day trying to improve the lives of those around them without ever seeking any kind of recognition for it. If you want really want to have a meaningful career as a journalist, you will seek them out and tell their stories and stop trying to impress your editor by getting the interviews that he never could.
Austin- That’s not what I was trying to do…
Austin- Okay, maybe a little. I just wanted to show him that I had the drive to do the job.
Santa- Just keep your nose to the grindstone and do what he asks you. That will get you farther than landing big names.
Austin- Thanks for the advice Santa.
Santa- Just consider it an early Christmas present. Now, why don’t we get to those questions before my time runs out.
Austin- Of course. The world is full of turmoil right now. There are wars, terrorists kidnapping and killing people who don’t believe the same things as them, and outbreaks of deadly diseases. Do you ever worry about your safety while you are out delivering gifts?
Santa- Well I have been doing this for a long time now and I have seen all of these situations before. So I don’t worry as much as I used too. Mrs. Claus worries a lot though. So I take precautions to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
Austin- Can you elaborate on what kind of precautions you take?
Santa- I’d rather not. I’ll just say that I’m prepared for any kind of situation that may arise.
Austin- Has any country’s military ever given you a problem?
Santa- We actually have a good working relationship with most nations around the world. Most of them offer me fighter jet escorts but I always turn them down.
Austin- Why is that? Does it scare the reindeer?
Santa- No we train all of our reindeer to deal with the noise of jet engines and how to fly around planes. That is something that they have to do on a routine basis. The reason that I don’t like escorts is that we are just so much faster than them. I would have to slow down in order for them to keep up with me and that would put me way behind schedule.
Austin- Just how fast can you fly?
Santa- Let’s just say that I would put my reindeer up against any man-made object out there.
Austin- You are being pretty evasive with your answers, Santa.
Santa- Well I hope you understand but for my safety and the future of Christmas, there are just some things that have to remain a secret.
Austin- I do understand that and don’t want to be the guy who ruined it. So I won’t push any harder.
Santa- Thanks for understanding.
Austin- Some stories say that you are immortal, is that true?
Santa- I wouldn’t call it immortal. Doctors have known for years that cold helps to slow down a person’s metabolism and stops them from aging as quick
Austin- You are talking about when doctor’s ice people down during heart surgery or when they have brain damage. That kind of concept?
Santa- Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about and I just happen to live in one of the coldest places on earth. So it only makes sense that I wouldn’t age as quick as people that live in normal climates.
Austin- Does that apply to the elves and reindeer too?
Santa- Yes, it works the same for all of us.
Austin- So how old are you exactly?
Santa- Well as the song goes, I’m old enough to know better, but I’m still too young to care.
Austin- You don’t care?
Santa- Of course I care. What it means is that I’m not afraid to have fun. I don’t let my age and what other people think stop me from getting out there and enjoying the things that I love to do.
Austin- Okay Santa, why don’t we move on. This past winter a lot of people here in the states learned a new weather term. Polar vortex. Did you send that down from the north pole to help chill us all off?
Santa- As much as I would like to be able to control the weather, I haven’t quite learned that trick yet. So no, that wasn’t my doing.
Austin- Is that really the kind of weather that you deal with at the North Pole?
Santa- Oh yes. We regularly see temperature’s well below freezing and some of the fiercest storms that you have ever seen.
Austin- How much snow do you normally get in a typical year?
Santa- To be truthful we normally don’t get too much snow. We may get a massive storm once or twice a year but they only produce one or two feet of snow. Most of the year, it’s actually just too cold for it to snow.
Austin- How cold does it get there?
Santa- It’s not uncommon for us to get down to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. If we get above 0, it’s like a warm summer day to us.
Austin- Isn’t it extremely hard to work in that kind of environment?
Santa- It was at first, over the years though, you grow use to it. We have learned how to keep the buildings warm and how to dress to stay warm while we are outside with the reindeer.
Austin- Do the reindeer do well in the cold?
Santa- Of course, they love it. They naturally thrive in the cold weather. Especially the breeds that we use. They are much more adept at handling it than any of us humans.
Austin- How does that affect them during your flight then? Does delivering to the warmer clients cause them any problems?
Santa- They will get overheated if we stay in the warm weather too long. That’s why if you follow any of the tracking sites on Christmas Eve, you will see that I go from north to south a lot. We make our deliveries in the warm weather and then head back up north for the reindeer to cool down again. I also switch out teams of reindeer throughout the night to make sure none of them get too tired. It just so happens that the time zones run north to south too. So that helps out a lot.
Austin- You mentioned time zones, how do they help you do your job?
Santa- The time zones are what make my job possible. Most people think that I am out delivering to the whole world just while they are asleep on Christmas Eve night. What they don’t realize is that I’ve actually been out there delivering since before they even got up that morning. When they are going to bed, Christmas is almost over on the other side of the world. So those people have already opened the gifts that I brought them the night before that. So while some people think that I do it all in just a matter of a few hours, the truth is that I’m out there delivering gifts for more like 30 hours.
Austin- That still seems like an awful lot of work to do even in 30 hours.
Santa- Oh believe me, it is. It also goes back to the speed that we talked about earlier and several other factors that make it all possible. I can guarantee you though that I don’t slow down time like some of the movies suggest or use some kind of magic. I’m able to do what I do because of years of practice, lots of planning, and the hard work of thousands of caring people.
Austin- Now when you say people, are you talking about the elves?
Santa- Of course. They are humans you know.
Austin- Well I knew they were humans but I guess I wasn’t sure if they are the same as you and me or not?
Santa- There you go believing what you see in movies, Austin. Don’t you know that those are just for entertainment?
Austin- So you are saying that the elves aren’t really like what we see in the movies?
Santa- Of course not. They are just like you, me, and every person out there reading this. They don’t wear outlandish clothes. They don’t all have pointy ears. They come in all shapes, sizes, and races. They could be sitting right next to you and you would never know.
Austin-Did the movies get anything right?
Santa- Well they do love eggnog and sugar cookies.
Austin- What is the elves favorite toy to make?
Santa- Well they love to make all of the toys. That’s what they do. If I had to say just one though, I would say the Teddy bear. It’s probably our most popular toy of all time. What kid doesn’t want a teddy bear when they are young?
Austin- That is true. I know I had one and my kids had one. Do you still make the same design of bear or have you changed it up over the years?
Santa- Oh we have made several different versions of the teddy bear. I think we have made them in every size and color imaginable.
Austin- Do you have a favorite toy to make?
Santa- Well I have several toys that I love to sit down and make when I have some spare time. Toy trains, model cars, wagons, bikes, but if I had to say just one, I would have to say a doll baby. Not any of the new ones that talk, eat, or do stuff like that. Just a good old fashioned doll baby.
Austin- Why is that Santa?
Santa- Well I just love to paint their faces. That is how you give a baby doll its personality. I just love to be the one to bring it to life you could say.
Austin- Have you ever made a toy that was so big or odd shaped that you regretted it when it came time to deliver them?
Santa- Not yet. When we design toys, we try to think ahead and work out any issues that may arise before we go into full scale production. Plus I have my own little tricks for delivering gifts that might be a little too big for one person to handle.
Austin- I’m guessing you don’t want to share those either?
Santa- Nope. I like to keep the people guessing.
Austin- There are tons of songs out there about you delivering gifts in trains, planes, boats, and even pickup trucks. Have you ever actually delivered in something other than a sleigh?
Santa- Well from time to time, I have been known to use other forms of transportation to deliver gifts for special events. I work with a lot of fire departments for instance to hand out gifts at parties for underprivileged kids. They usually like for me to come in on a fire truck. As far as on Christmas Eve though, no. I have never delivered in anything other than a sleigh. Now these sleighs aren’t your normal run of the mill sleighs. We design and build them at the North Pole to meet our exacting standards. They can handle just about anything.
Austin- How often do you build a new sleigh?
Santa- We build a new one every year. The world is constantly changing and what I needed the sleigh to do a hundred years ago is different from what I need the sleigh to do today. Today’s buildings are different so how I land is different. I need more speed from the sleigh. I need it to fit into tighter spaces. It needs to be able to fly higher to avoid running into planes. Every year I run into new situations and we have to look at how to adapt the sleigh to handle them in the future.
Austin- Have you ever had any designs that didn’t work?
Santa- Oh yes, we sometimes push the limit and things fail. I have had sleigh’s that want to fly upside down because of the aerodynamics that we tried to build into the design. Failure is always an option when you are trying to do things that people have never done before.
Austin- What do you do with the sleighs after you are done with them?
Santa- We keep them. We have a big barn that we store them all in there at the North Pole.
Austin- So you have a sleigh museum?
Santa- Yes and no. They are all on display for the elves to go look at when they want, but we also still use them. I love to take out some of the older ones when Mrs. Claus and I go for a quick trip. If we also go back to your question about failures, there have been times when a sleigh has had a parts failure in the middle of my flight. So we always have last year’s sleigh on standby just in case.
Austin- So you have had to swap out sleighs in the middle of the flight?
Santa- Yes. It’s not something that happens often but there have been a few times over the years.
Austin- Now you mentioned that you and Mrs. Claus go on trips. Does she ever ride with you on Christmas Eve?
Santa- She sometimes likes to hop on board for the last few deliveries. She loves to go to Hawaii for example. She doesn’t really care for the high speeds that I am forced to travel for most of my journey though, so she stays back at the North Pole and helps with the final preparations for the Christmas party there.
Austin- What does Mrs. Claus do at the North Pole? Does she run the kitchen like the moves show?
Santa- Well yes, she does spend a lot of time in the kitchen. She loves to bake sugar cookies for everyone. She also helps out in all of the other departments too. She loves to work with the baby reindeer. There really isn’t anything at the North Pole that she can’t do.
Austin- Does she ever go with you when you visit with children?
Santa- Oh yes, that is one of her favorite things to do.
Austin- Now Santa, when you go to visit the kids it is reported that you speak the native language of every child. Is that true?
Santa- Sometimes, yes. Other times I can communicate another way. It just depends. i like to keep my conversations with the kids private. If too many people are standing around and hear me speak French or Cantonese or something else they tend to make a bit of a scene. I just try to focus on the child.
Austin- There’s almost 7,000 languages in the world. You can speak all of them?
Austin- How long did it take you to learn them?
Santa-Well some of them only took a few months. Some of them took years to get down right. The hardest part is that some of them have never even been written down. So I had to spend time in the area and work with the locals to learn them.
Austin- Wow. I’m amazed that with everything you have going on that you would have time to do that.
Santa- Well I consider it a part of my job. So I made it a priority. It’s also a great way to get out and meet the children in those areas. It helps me decide what to give the kids in those areas since it’s extremely hard for them to send me letters.
Austin- Santa, I have seen in your previous interviews that you like to answer questions from kids. So I solicited a few from some of my friend’s kids.
Santa- Oh yes I love answering kids questions.
Austin- The first one comes from EA. She would like to know if you like hot chocolate with marshmallows in it?
Santa- EA, I love hot chocolate with marshmallows. It definitely helps keep me warm up at the North Pole and during my trip around the world. The marshmallows help make it feel like a special treat not just a normal drink.
Austin- Tay would like to know what Mrs. Claus does while you are out delivering gifts?
Santa- Well Tay, we covered that a little bit earlier but let me elaborate a little. She helps out in the kitchen to get lots of sugar cookies ready for the North Pole Christmas party. She likes to spend some time in the tracking center just to make sure that all is going well on my journey. She helps out in the wrapping department if they are running behind. Sometimes she will even come meet me when I take my dinner break.
Austin- Wow, sounds like she is almost as busy as you are.
Santa- Sometimes she is even busier than me. She deserves a lot more credit than she gets.
Austin- Well hopefully she gets it now. I’m sure you get asked this all of the time but Niv would like to know what your favorite type of cookie is?
Santa- I do get asked that a lot but since Niv hasn’t heard the answer yet, I’ll gladly answer it one more time. My favorite cookie is Mrs. Claus sugar cookie of course. It just melts in your mouth and the icing, oh the icing. My second favorite cookie is whatever cookie is in front me. I don’t think I have ever met a cookie that I did not like. Well unless they are stale and hard as a rock. I don’t particularly care for old cookies.
Austin- This next question is from Emily. She would like to know if you have ever missed a kid while out delivering gifts?
Santa- Emily you can take comfort in knowing that we have never missed a child. We take pride in our record of that. It takes a lot of planning and quadruple checking but it is all worth it to make sure every kid can smile on Christmas morning.
Austin- Well Santa it looks like our time has come to an end. Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Santa- I just want everyone to stay tuned. There is going to be lots of exciting news coming out of the North Pole this year.
Austin- Okay we will do just that. I would like to thank you for your time Santa and once again for finally agreeing to sit down with me.
Santa- Well thank you for helping me get my message out, Austin. Keep up the hard work and you could go somewhere someday.
Austin- Thank you, Santa. I will do just that.
Santa- Oh and Austin.
Austin- Yes, Santa.
Santa- Merry Christmas!
Austin- Merry Christmas, Santa!