Dear Santa Claus, I was really good in 1981 and I asked for an Atari for Christmas from you and I didn’t get one. What gives? Darnell W., Chicago, IL
You were really good that year, Darnell. You were consistently on the Nice List throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s. I really appreciated you being a great kid, and now you have a couple of great kids of your own. I’m sorry you feel so haunted by this lack of an Atari. No question, Atari would have been a great gift for you in 1981. I did get you a skateboard. As you skated around your neighborhood that spring you met your best friend for life, Victor. You ran over the girl you’d eventually bring to your senior prom, Dominique. If you’d spent all that time indoors playing Atari, maybe your life wouldn’t have taken these turns. Sometimes I’m not able to give children the gift they want, but I can give them a gift they’ll use and enjoy that is maybe the perfect gift for them at that moment. Part of believing in the spirit of the Holidays is trusting in that spirit.
Dear Santa, I am Jewish. Why don’t you also deliver gifts to Jewish kids? Melissa S., Seattle, WA
Melissa, I would really love to bring gifts to Jewish children all over the world, and I am hoping at some point down the road we can add them to our delivery routes. Judaism is a terrific religion and Jewish children are some of the highest-rated kids on the Nice List. We made a handshake agreement long ago to allow Hanukkah to be a special holiday on its own, and there is much debate whether the eight days of gift-giving is as much fun as one big holiday of giving. But, don’t forget, Jews get a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in which they pretty much have the run of the town. All those days going out to movies and to eat with your families when everyone else is unwrapping in their homes, those memories can be very special, too. Sometimes the experience of Christmas can be overwhelming and disappointing and can leave Christmas-celebrators feeling pretty wiped-out. Hannukah has a wonderful history that doesn’t get overwhelmed by me. Enjoy it. But, if we decide to make a change down the road, it will be in all the papers and blogs.
Mr. Claus, Do you have a favorite Holiday Song? Mildred G., Buhl, ID
I’m pretty flattered by all the songs about me that make me seem so magical. Bob Dylan’s “It Must Be Santa” was a big thrill for me, because I am such a fan of his. I like The Killers’ “Don’t Shoot Me Santa Claus” as well. It is very catchy and very sweet, beneath some of the humor. The one I am not a fan of is “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” I find that song extremely upsetting for making fun of what was ultimately a really unfortunate accident. Grandma was OK and we made lots of adjustments to the sleigh, it’s a very touchy subject for me. But my all time favorite is Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis.” In my opinion, it is right up there with Handel’s “Messiah.”
My neighborhood gets overrun by puking, drunken Santas every year during this so-called “Santacon.” Can you help us bring it to an end? Mitch P., New York, NY
I attend Santacon every year. It’s the one night of the year when I can really blend in and be myself in the big city. I’m sorry about all the over-drinking. But there is an odd camaraderie between all these people in Santa suits. And it may not seem like it, but they really are spreading the Spirit of the Holidays. Each and every one of those people in Santa suits, at some moment or another, was approached by a child who was able to say hi and tell them what they wanted for the holidays. Believe me, I could shut it down if I wanted. But I enjoy it, and it’s a big help to me and our efforts here at the North Pole. I’m truly sorry about the effect it has on your neighborhood. But your neighborhood can sometimes use a little disruption.
Dear Santa Claus, are you Really Real? Jesus A., El Paso, TX
I think the question of whether I exist or not is something that makes the holidays incredibly special. And I don’t want to weigh in too much for one side or the other. There are smart and thoughtful people that believe in me and enjoy the Spirit of the Holidays and there are some who don’t believe and have their own holiday traditions. I try to give those people as much space as possible. I’m sorry if this is not a satisfactory answer for you. But I think you know that life never gives us too many straight answers. And sometimes wondering about something is more valuable and fun than knowing the secrets to everything. You’ve been very good this year!
Santa, will there ever be a female Santa Claus? Stephanie S., Bar Harbor, ME
Yes. There was a Ms. Claus from 1943–1950 and also from 1990–1997. And there will be many more. The image of Santa Claus may popularly be a white man, but the truth is much more diverse. I can’t talk too much about it, but there’s a rotation of roles here at the North Pole. Let’s leave it at that.
Dear Saint Nicholas, how is it that you are able to deliver all those toys all over the world on just one night? Alexi E., Silver Spring, DE
I know this seems pretty unlikely to you, Alexi. But we have a lot of help. Some countries do not celebrate Christmas on the same day, so we’re able to space it out over a number of weeks. But even if we did have to deliver gifts to every child in the world on just one night, we could get it done. We’re only as good as our support system, but I must say that there are an impressive amount of people who help us get it done.
Hello, Mr. Claus, what is December 26th like for you? Dylan H., Columbus, OH
The whole operation runs on adrenaline for much of the delivery process. The first thing I do when we’re finished is shave. It’s just a habit I get into as we turn the page on a successful year, and we all get a big laugh from it. As the beard grows it’s a reminder to us all to stay focused on our tasks. But each day after Christmas can always be different. We had a large error one year, in which we missed Nebraska entirely and had to redeliver the night after, with little notes for all the children. No system is perfect. One year we all went to see Avatar. There was another year where we had a terrible injury to a reindeer and spent most of the next day bedside, praying. That was maybe the saddest holiday we’d ever seen on the North Pole. But that deer died flying and bringing gifts to kids. It was a huge reminder to us what is most important and how lucky we are to be a small part of it.
Santa, Doesn’t your leg get pretty tired from having people sit in your lap? Addie L., Tempe, AZ
It’s nice to get to talk to so many children. But, yes. My knee falls asleep all the time.
Dear Santa, Do you have a favorite kind of cookie? Are there other things you would like other than cookies? Max P., Salem, OR
This is a little embarrassing. Fortune Cookies are my favorite. Especially really cheap ones from tiny Chinese take out places. I know people put a lot of effort into leaving me cookies that they’ve made especially for me. And all that milk! I happily eat and drink all those! But I really secretly love Fortune Cookies the most. Let’s not tell anyone, Max.
Dear Santa, CHIMNEYS ARE FREAKY! Elizabeth B., Dallas, TX
Honestly, I still get a little claustrophobic every time I go down a chimney. It’s just something you can’t ever get used to. When you’re in the Zone you can’t think about it. You’re just down and up and on to the next one. It’s a relief to get to apartment buildings where I can get in through a window or get buzzed up. There’s usually a nest of squirrels you’re trying to avoid on the way past or the flue is down and you have to kind of work it loose. And I’ve gotten stuck! Though usually only for 30 seconds or so. It’s like being born! Over and over again! I am always thinking of going back to just using people’s doors, but everyone is so crazy about the chimney entry.
Mr. Santa, What is global warming like in the North Pole? Have you seen polar bears doing unnatural things? Also and this is sort of related, but do you like Coke (their Christmas campaign implies you do). Lily T., Hanover, NH
We’re lucky in Santa’s Village to have some methods to keep things very cold and the ice very solid. Much of the North Pole (which next year will become technically the South Pole due to a magnetic shift the Earth occasionally experiences) is in peril and its obviously a very serious situation. We don’t get many polar bears in the Village, and not unlike the reindeer they have polar bear games. I do like Coke, but I am trying to lose some weight. And Coke Zero makes me frankly a little farty. We drink Coke hot on the Pole, because it’s always pretty chilly.
Hello Santa, I just found out I’m allergic to horses, after three decades of not being allergic to them. Has anything like that happened with you and reindeer, or is that something you don’t worry about? Esther P., Brooklyn, NY
I actually am allergic to reindeer. I have to be careful about petting them without my mittens on and rubbing my eyes.
Dear Santa, How old are you and when is your birthday? Milt R., Grand Rapids, MI
While you hold the position of Santa Claus you do not age. It is part of some magical arrangement. I was born in Nigeria on February 4, 1897. And I have served as Santa Claus for several different stints. So I am only 59 right now.
Dear Santa, How do you handle requests for things like “I want to not be lonely for Christmas” or “I want my dad to get better for Christmas”? Jill P., Yuma, AZ
These requests are like any requests. Sometimes they can work out and I can help. Other times I can’t. Even I have a boss and I cannot control everything. But sometimes the small miracle that helps you to meet someone special is granted simply by you asking for it. When we want things from the universe, we ought to ask for them. Or ask for help. Whether you’re asking Santa or someone else. Never be afraid to ask for help in times of sorrow or loneliness. And sometimes we’re alone or sad just in time to meet someone great or have a miracle occur. I hope this answers your question. We must have faith that good things can also happen for us in our lives. And we must be open to all the tiny miracles. The holidays can be stressful and you need to take care of yourself. Sometimes trying to avoid loneliness just makes things worse. If you reach out, you never know who might be there to listen. Lots of people get lonely at Christmas, there are lots of people to connect with.
Dear Santa, I swear I heard you on the roof on the night of December 24, 1988, at [redacted] High Street, in Brookline, Massachusetts. What kind of boots do you wear? Ben T., Los Angeles, CA
That was me! I get most of my stuff from L. L. Bean. That whole “He sees you when you’re sleeping” thing isn’t an exact science. Sometimes we have rough landings, sorry about waking you up. But I hope you liked the My Little Ponys I got you.
Do you have a question for Santa?
Photo by GWImages, via Shutterstock