With less than four days left until Christmas, Santa Claus still has a few things to do in final preparation for his annual Christmas Eve trip around the world.
Early Tuesday morning, on Christmas Eve day, Santa will have to double-check and triple-check to make sure all Christmas toys and gifts are completed and wrapped. He will take his best red suit out of the closet. He will make sure he and his reindeer have a hearty meal Tuesday evening before heading out on their trip. As always, Santa will also make sure a few midnight snacks are tucked in the sleigh for good measure for him, Rudolph and the other reindeer.
And finally, just before midnight on Tuesday, Santa will grab his lengthy list of children’s names and their addresses and the toys they will receive. He will head outside to take his sleigh from the barn and hook up the reindeer to the front of the sleigh. He will make sure Rudolph’s nose is properly shining for the trip. Santa will then give Mrs. Claus a quick kiss before climbing aboard the sleigh and waving good-bye to all the cheering elves. Another record-breaking trip around the world has begun.
But before all that happens, Santa Claus took a few minutes Friday from his home in the North Pole to answer some questions from the staff of the Bureau County Republican.
BCR: I know it might not be the proper first question, Santa, but how old are you? Also, are you the original Santa or was that your great, great, great, grandfather?
Santa: Well, that’s quite a question! I am not really sure how old I am. When I was born, calendars weren’t really very common. We sort of went by the stars and sun and seasons to estimate a year’s passing. And, we never really counted the years. We simply tried to make the most of our time...and still do. It’s a good plan!
BCR: What time do you leave the North Pole on Christmas Eve to get around the world in one night?
Santa: Time is rather odd at the North Pole. As you know, all time zones meet at the top and the bottom of the earth. Where I live, one can cross through all time zones in the blink of an eye! That is a great advantage! As the sun rises, we gather its energy and follow it on our global route! As you know, the sun makes its way around the earth in just a day. We stay slightly behind and travel in the dark.
BCR: How fast does Rudolph and the reindeer have to travel to make the trip? Are there speed limit signs posted in outer space?
Santa: I would love to tell you how fast we fly. But alas ... the sleigh’s speedometer broke ages ago. And, I have yet to find a good sleigh mechanic. There are no speed limit signs. There’s nowhere to hang them!
BCR: Do the reindeer take a supper break in the middle of night?
Santa: Never! There’s no time for that. We rest before Christmas Eve and after we complete our rounds.
BCR: How do you keep the reindeer motivated and in good spirits for making the long trip?
Santa: They are inspired by the fact that they are delivering joy to the world! What more could they need!
BCR: Do reindeer drink hot chocolate or coffee to keep them awake when they are flying?
Santa: No! They are traditional hay burners. Hay and water and a little grain are enough to make them fly high and long! On occasion, I have been known to sneak them a carrot or apple or sugar cube.
BCR: Is Rudolph’s nose still really bright, or has it started to fade a bit as he’s gotten older?
Santa: It’s a bright cherry rosy red! Just as bright as the first time I saw him. He’s my beacon!
BCR: How do you know your way each year? Do you look for certain landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Empire State Building in the United States? Or do you have a GPS?
Santa: After a few hundred trips or so, we pretty much know our way. With eight experienced reindeer, Rudolph and myself, we know our way ... without GPS.
BCR: Do you have to wear long-winter underwear to keep warm?
Santa: Oh my, Yes! And boots, wool socks, my fur trimmed suit. Plus I put a hot water bottle on the seat! Cozy!
BCR: What’s your favorite kind of cookie that you like to get on Christmas Eve?
Santa: The ones I find under the tree. They are all delicious!
BCR: If not cookies, what would be your next best treat?
Santa: I would say anything but venison!
BCR: What does Mrs. Claus do while you are gone for the day and night? Has she ever made the trip with you?
Santa: She stays in and helps the elves tidy up and clean up. We have a fabulous party as soon as we return. She’s never expressed an interest in joining me on this venture! Also, she starts work for the next Christmas season while we are still out delivering our Christmas packages. Christmas would not be the same without her help.
BCR: What’s your Christmas wish for every girl and boy?
Santa: Health, happiness and all the love they need.
BCR editor’s note: Assisting Santa with this interview was John Costello of Princeton.