Each year Santa takes the time to speak extensively and exclusively with a member of the media. This year Santa speaks with Naomi Carlson of The Herald Star of Blueberry, Maine:
Naomi: First off, Santa — how about dem Cubs?
Santa: [laughs] Hohoho, I was wondering how long it would take you to ask!
Naomi: You’ve been telling us for years, Santa.
Santa: Well, they have been very good boys this year, that’s for sure.
Naomi: Will they win it all?
Santa: I don’t know, but won’t it be fun to watch?
Naomi: Santa, does Mrs. Claus get frustrated with your love of sports?
Santa: Oh, I don’t think so. She might be more frustrated with other hobbies, like my love of trains.
Naomi: Do you have many trains?
Santa: I do. My collection is nearly 200 years old now and it never gets smaller. I just love them.
Naomi: All men have their toys, I suppose.
Santa: And so do all girls. I see nothing wrong with it, taken in moderation of course. I think toys are good for everyone.
Naomi: As a master toymaker is it hard to keep coming up with new ideas for toys? How do you do it?
Santa: Well, I talk to experts.
Naomi: Guys at toy companies?
Santa: Heavens no. I talk to kids. They teach me a lot, especially about toys. They have such cool ideas.
Naomi: Wow, I guess kids are pretty important to what you do, right?
Santa: Oh absolutely. I love the kids. They not only have the best ideas they have the best attitudes. Most adults I know are former children and I think we could
learn a lot as big people by being more kid-like in all that we do. Children know what it is all about.
Naomi: Are you excited for Christmas this year?
Santa: Very much so! I can’t wait. This is going to be a great Christmas.
Naomi: Santa, the kids seem worried. I polled a lot of them in advance of sitting down with you. The news from SantaUpdate.com has a lot of them worried about the reindeer.
Santa: Well they don’t need to be worried. The reindeer have never let me down, just like the kids.
Naomi: Will they be back in time for Christmas?
Santa: Of course. We just need to believe in them.
Naomi: Is belief the hardest part of Christmas?
Santa: You know, I think it is. We get so easily discouraged and I understand why, especially if there are things like sickness to deal with. But that is why we must always be aware of each other and in tune with each other. We must take care of each other. That I think is the great repeating lesson of Christmas once a year. Love, love, love!
Naomi: Do you struggle with people not believing in Santa?
Santa: Sometimes it bothers me. I mean, how much more can a guy do? I try to be there year after year and yet some just won’t believe in me no matter what.
Naomi: Does that keep you up nights?
Santa: No, I can’t let it bother me much. Besides, Christmas isn’t about me. I would much rather work to get people to believe in themselves and in each other and the love that should be there every day in their lives.
Naomi: Tell me about the North Pole, Santa. Is it a wonderful place?
Santa: Well, it is unusual. I get all around the world, you know. But the North Pole is home. It just isn’t for everyone.
Naomi: What do you mean?
Santa: It can be a harsh place. A lot of wind. A lot of cold. A lot of snow. Not many trees. You don’t see a lot of cruise ships coming to the North Pole.
Naomi: So why are you based there?
Santa: Well the location is just the best for what I do. Everything is south and I can get just about anywhere very quickly.
Naomi: How many people actually live at the North Pole? I look at the webcams that some people have put up there and I don’t see anything. No buildings. No people. No cars.
Santa: That’s because most of our operations there are under ground. In fact, anyone operating at the North Pole is under ground. The weather is so bad much of the time that is the only efficient way to operate. All my neighbors are under ground too.
Naomi: You have neighbors at the North Pole?
Santa: Oh yes. We have Russian explorers, Canadian scientists, American military, Norwegian fisherman — gee, all kinds of people in the neighborhood.
Naomi: Wow. I had no idea. Is there such a thing as a North Pole block party?
Santa: [laughs] No, but that’s not a bad idea. I see them now and then. Usually at Christmas, like everyone else.
Naomi: What do you think of the condition of the world this year, Santa? Will it be a peaceful Christmas?
Santa: Sadly, no. Not like it could be. Some places are better, some places are worse. I have concerns for many people around the world this year.
Naomi: What do you do about that, Santa?
Santa: Well we work hard and we try to do what we can to bring as much happiness to others that we can.
Naomi: Is your work ever done?
Santa: Well, no. But we don’t like to think of it as work. I don’t watch the clock, Naomi. I love what I do. I have the best job in the world.
Naomi: Does it pay well?
Santa: You know, a lot of people ask me that! But who would pay me? I get paid in cookies and hugs and nice notes and “Merry Christmas, Santa!” everywhere I go. That’s payment enough for me.
Naomi:Well…how does Santa afford to be Santa? It can’t be free, all this stuff you do.
Santa: Well it isn’t as bad as you might think. I get a lot of help. Plus real estate at the North Pole isn’t exactly a hot commodity. That’s a really American question, Naomi. Too many people in the world measure things by money, especially Christmas. I’d rather be measured by love.
Naomi: Well, you’re right. That is hard to understand. But it is a fair question, no?
Santa: I suppose. But let me ask you this: If you had no money to spend whatsoever could you still have Christmas?
Naomi: I don’t know, Santa. How do you have Christmas without money?
Santa: A lot of people do, Naomi. Many people do and some of them, I would tell you, have a better Christmas than you do every year.
Naomi: How is that possible?
Santa: It is possible when you understand what Christmas is and where it comes from. Many, many people do not get that. The go out and spend a lot of money or worse they go out and get so busy at Christmas that they forget to just enjoy it. Christmas is just about love and it can be celebrated any day of the year in any place without any money whatsoever. Those who get that tend to have the merriest Christmases of all.
Naomi: Do you personally spend a lot of money on Christmas?
Santa: No. Never.
Naomi: A lot of people blame you for the commercialism of Christmas, you know. How do you respond to that?
Santa: Well it is unfair, as you know. People use the image of Santa Claus to sell things and that upsets me. Even people who play Santa charge money some times and that really gets under my skin. But I cannot do anything about it. If you go back in history and look of how Santa came about it never had money associated with the story or buying and selling as part of what makes Santa Santa. I’ve been used that way for well over a century or even longer, sad to say.
Naomi: From Facebook, we received this question. Over the years, there have been a number of fictional accounts of how you came to be, from L Frank Baum’s short novel, to Rankin Bass’ TV treatment, to the upcoming Grant Morrison graphic novel. Do you have a favorite among the fictional versions of you?
Santa: Honestly? I think I like Clement Moore’s imagination and verse about Santa Claus. I love “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, I think it sets just the right tone and paints just the right picture. Plus it doesn’t explain too much, you know? It leaves just enough to the imagination that a Santa believer still has that magic and wonder about it all. I think it is wonderful.
Naomi: So many get their perceptions of you from movies. How do you think Hollywood is doing in portraying the real Santa?
Santa: Not so good, honestly. They take broad liberties in the name of entertainment. Some are worse than others. But by and large I don’t think movies do me much justice.
Naomi: Would you ever make your own movie, you know, to set the record straight?
Santa: No, no. We’re just not about self promotion, Naomi. We need to remain focused on what we do here at the North Pole. It isn’t about me, after all. Our work is too important to spend our time or resources on that kind of stuff.
Naomi: So how do you plan to fight all the negative stereotypes?
Santa: I don’t. I never have. It is what it is. I just do what I do and take the good with the bad. It’s funny. On some days during the season we suffer from some bad press. People write articles about how Santa makes people greedy or turns kids into brats. But then on Christmas Eve the love is all universal. So I try not to think about it too much.
Naomi: Is it stressful being Santa?
Santa: Oh no, as I said before, it’s the greatest job in the world.
Naomi: Again, from Facebook, we get this question: Do you feel as if you are under increasing pressure with every passing year? How do you prefer to stay relaxed during the lead up to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
Santa: Pressure? No. I have concerns. There are things I think about and worry about. But the pressure isn’t really there. When you love what you do you tend to look at pressure or work as candy. You just want more and more of it. I love what I do. I can’t wait to get up in the morning and go to work. And come Chritsmas nothing is better than climbing in that sleigh and going to work.
Naomi: Santa, the last couple of years the North Pole has been broadcasting news coverage of your flight on the radio. They even had you on the radio last year. Did you like that?
Santa: Oh, I loved it. It was a lot of fun. So many kids told me they heard me on the radio! You know, that radio thing has become the biggest gig here for an elf at the North Pole.
Naomi: Really? What do you mean?
Santa: Well everyone wants to be on the radio. Everyone wants to be like Red Stocking. That guy, I tell you. He’s got that golden voice! I get asked about him everywhere I go. What’s he look like? Is he married? I’m afraid he’s becoming the most popular elf at the North Pole.
Naomi: Will there be Santa tracking again on the radio?
Santa: Yes, we have made all the arrangements. I think it will get better and better every year. We are looking to involve more kids. There are lots of kids out there that want to become elves and tracking Santa is a huge, world-wide kind of project. It is a good place for someone to learn to be an elf. So we are trying to find more ways for kids to become involved and to become the elves they want to be.
Naomi: What do you mean, Santa?
Santa: The work of getting me around the world is one of the more complicated things we do, Naomi. It is no small feat to get around the world in a flying sleigh that has no means of mechanical propulsion. We need lots of eyes out there, people who can spot the weather and look for dangers and report conditions back to the North Pole. Kids are expert sky watchers, especially on Christmas Eve, so why not give them some duty to perform in that regard? We look forward to doing more of that this year.
Naomi: That sounds really exciting. Why did the North Pole start broadcasting on the radio?
Santa: Well, I like to listen to Christmas music when I work. Originally Kringle Radio was meant to be just for me. I didn’t like most other radio stations out there playing great music with constant commercials and all. So they wired the sleigh and they set it up in my hat so I could hear it while I work. They also used that set up to send me information — you know, flight stuff like weather news and warnings and such. And it kind of grew from there. When we started doing our own updates it seemed natural enough to just make Kringle Radio a public thing.
Naomi: Does the fact that others not associated with the North Pole do Santa Tracking?
Santa: Well, no. Just as long as they don’t commercialize it. I think it is fine, in fact, I think it is great. The idea that fathers and sons or parents with their kids track Santa together on Christmas Eve is something I think is fabulous — a great tradition. It doesn’t really matter how they do it or where they get their information from, as long as there’s no commercial message with it and the content is appropriate, I’m all for it. Of course, we’ll get the full story better from what we do at the North Pole, but other Santa trackers are ok.
Naomi: I have a lot of questions from kids here about your flight. Jamal of Keating, Texas wants to know how often you change your suit on your flight?
Santa: Jamal is a good guy. Expert with a soccer ball! So this is a good question, a fair question. Mrs. Claus makes my flight suits for me special. They are different than most kids see me wear when they visit with me. I usually change that suit up to five or six times during the course of my flight. It’s a long flight, as you know, and I encounter lots of weather and different situations. Sometimes my suit gets dirty quick, so I have to change it pretty often. Good question.
Naomi: Jennilynn of Perth, Australia wants to know if you get sick of all the cookies on Christmas Eve and if she shouldn’t fix you something else, like maybe some ribs or something?
Santa: That Jennilynn, I tell you, she’s such a good girl! Always so thoughtful, that kid. I don’t get sick of the cookies but you know that’s not all I eat on Christmas Eve. People leave out all kinds of food for me and the reindeer. I love ribs! But Jennilynn doesn’t need to go to all that trouble, the last thing I feel on my flight is hunger, I always get plenty to eat — all night long!
Naomi: Santa, is Christmas different all over the world?
Santa:Oh, not as much as it used to be. Each place brings something a little unique to it but by and large love is love and fun and fun and that is what I see with Christmas all over. The music might be a little different in one place than another and the food traditions here and there might be unique but I love it all.
Naomi:We have lots of questions about cookies from the kids, Santa. But Kandace of Odgen, Utah seemed to represent the most common question and wants to know what kind of cookie you like best?
Santa: Ooh, that Kandace! She’s a real card, a funny, funny girl. Last year she made me cookies with gummie bears in them. So weird, just like her, but so tasty too. And that’s the thing. There’s something about making cookies for Santa. It’s Christmas Eve and everyone wants to make them special. So they get creative and put the best stuff in them. And that’s what makes them so delicious. And that is also why I can’t pick a favorite.
Naomi: What about the reindeer, Santa? Surely they can’t eat cookies, too.
Santa: That’s true. They are athletes and we have to be a bit more careful with what they eat. Their little tummies are so delicate. A lot of folks leave out veggies of all sorts and that’s always appropriate. Some leave out fruit for the reindeer and they love that too. But some times I slip them a little tiny bite of a cookie, especially those that have oatmeal in them. They do love that.
Naomi: The business of being Santa and getting around the world in one night sure seems complicated. How do you do it?
Santa: Well, I have a lot of help. People all over the world help me. Christmas Eve is the one night of the year when the whole world comes together to do something good. There is much happiness that night. I just get to see so much of it as I get around the world. It is a pleasure to do.
Naomi: Do you ever get tired of it? Do you ever think, well, I’ll take this Christmas off?
Santa: Oh no. Never. By the time Christmas comes around I’m ready to get out there and get to work. There is plenty of time for rest and vacation the rest of the year.
Naomi: What does Santa do for vacation?
Santa: Oh, the same as anyone else. We will travel and see exciting places. We will relax or go places to do things we can’t do at home. I don’t think we’re all that different than most people.
Naomi: When it’s not Christmas do people recognize you?
Santa: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It depends on how I’m dressed. I don’t wear my Santa suit year round.
Naomi: Do you get people who want autographs or to take pictures with you in odd places?
Santa: Sometimes that happens. And I’m okay with it.
Naomi: Do you ever just want people to leave you alone?
Santa: Oh, no. I love people. I talk to them wherever I can.
Naomi: Can you go out much in December? It seems to me that is when a lot of people will recognize you.
Santa: I am usually at a lot of public events in December. It is my busiest month of the year and I rarely get home during that time. I’ll give speeches, appear in parades, and at concerts, I visit a lot of parties and Churches. December is a very busy time and I usually wear my suit for those events. So yeah a lot of people recognize me. Many times at these things there will be a line of kids to see and I just love that.
Naomi: Santa, I have comments from a lot of children here who want to be elves, to ride on your sleigh or move to the North Pole. What do you say to them?
Santa: Well, I say bless their hearts. All these kids want is to give to others and I applaud them. They understand Christmas well. We hope through SantaUpdate.com that we give them plenty to do to help them feel like they are part of things at the North Pole. If I had my way I’d make them all elves and move them to the North Pole, but of course we can’t do that. They need to be with their families and to grow up strong.
Naomi: Is it hard to become an elf?
Santa: Not at all. You just have to keep that twinkle in your eye.
Naomi: Santa, that sounds like it is easier said than done.
Santa: Not at all, Naomi. Keeping Christmas every day keeps that twinkle there. A Merry Christmas to you and to everyone! Thank you for visiting with me.