Making and distributing toys to children all over the world is no easy feat, but SANTA CLAUS wouldn’t have it any other way.It’s not quite the night before Christmas, but St. Nick is already hard at work preparing for his gift-giving trek around the globe. With just weeks to go before his big night, the one and only Santa Claus took a brief break from his workshop to chat with American Way.
American Way: What preparations are you making for Christmas Eve?
Santa Claus: It’s getting the toys together, getting the reindeer fit and ready for the sleigh. We call them “reindeer games,” but they’re not really games so much as workouts and training. I make sure the lists are all correct — the naughty and nice — and double-check all of my maps.
AW: What does your workforce look like these days? How many elves are in your employ?
SC: People ask me how many elves I have, and it’s kind of like trying to herd cats. It’s hard to count them. They’re scurrying all over the place all the time. Basically, it’s about 735 of them close at hand. I have one special person, Mrs. Claus, who is my cookie adviser. She’s always trying different recipes to see what I’ll like best. The main one is chocolate chip, but No. 2 is snickerdoodle.
Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, N.Y., is open to visitors on the weekends through Dec. 22. Visit www.northpoleny.com for directions and admission information.
AW: What has changed for you over the years?
SC: One of the big challenges these days is that so many modern houses don’t have chimneys. I came up with a key — it’s called the Magic Key — that will open up a child’s house as long as it’s Christmas Eve and I have toys in tow. That worked really well for years until some joker invented the house alarm. [Laughs] The first house I ran into that had one of those things, I had sirens going and police all lined up outside. It took a lot of explaining, but it all worked out OK.
AW: What are some of 2013’s most requested gifts?
SC: It’s amazing to me to see the resurgence of the LEGO legacy, if you will. A lot of kids — both boys and girls — are asking for LEGO sets, and I like that a lot. Besides that, I get a lot of American Girl requests, a lot of [Nintendo] DS requests and a lot of requests for things that start with an “i.”
AW: Generally speaking, have we been naughty or nice this year?
SC: Oh, everyone’s been very nice. I have a lot of faith in humankind. I’m more apt to have people on the nice list than the naughty list.
AW: So there’s not a lot of coal this Christmas?
SC: Well, I don’t use coal anymore. Coal is a very valuable commodity, so I gravitate toward old underwear and dirty socks these days. If you’re bad, that’s what you get.
AW: How important is giving?
SC: I think giving is very important, and children aren’t too young to understand that. A lot of kids will come to me and say, “I don’t need anything, but my brother would like this,” or, “My mom would really enjoy something.” There’s a lot of good will in the world.
AW: Do you ever get any time off?
SC: I do. Right after Christmas, I take some time off and I go to the beach. I’m kind of incognito, and I just relax. I take about two weeks, and then I’m right back into the swing of things.
AW: What do you want for Christmas?
SC: I’d just like things to go on the way they are. I enjoy getting my cookies every year. Some warm socks for the long night — that’s always nice. And the opportunity to put smiles on the faces of children all over the world is the best gift I could ever receive. I have the best job in the world.