By Medicine Hat News on December 23, 2017.
Medicine Hat News
One of the most pleasant tasks of the Christmas season around the News office is the opportunity we’re given for a one-on-one interview with Santa Claus. Because it’s so busy around the North Pole in December, Santa’s communication director, Sean Huckabee, arranged for us to talk to Santa one evening early in the month after Santa’s day of supervision in the workshop had been completed.
The News: Because you’re able to talk to us, are we to understand the work in your workshop has been completed for the day?
Santa Claus: Oh, oh, no, no. Ho, ho, ho. The work is never done. We run two 12-hour shifts, starting in September, to make sure the elves can produce enough toys and games to satisfy an ever-growing number of children around the world. We used to work 18-hour days, starting in October, but it’s been extended now. Thank goodness the increase in the minimum wage doesn’t apply to the North Pole elves, or things could get pretty tight around the ol’ Pole.
The News: You mean the elves work for free?
Santa: Ho, ho, ho, no. Define free. The elves get free room and board, Mrs. Claus takes her Mercedes Benz down to the local grocery store daily to pick up nothing but the best ingredients to prepare meals to feed the little tykes, and they also get 12-hour breaks every day. They sleep for six, relax for six, and then work for 12 hours. It’s a great system.
The News: You said Mrs. Claus has a Mercedes?
Santa: Oh, yes. She’s earned it. We have the best snow tires possible and it’s a treat for her to go to the store every day, because she loves driving that beast. She worked hard for it. Before she got the car, she used to hitch up a couple of the reindeer for her daily grocery runs, but those poor guys need the rest for their big night on Dec. 24.
The News: How are the reindeer, Santa?
Santa: Ho, ho, ho, they’re terrific. One year older than they were last year, of course, but they’re experienced, sturdy and enthused. They love that around-the-world flight on Christmas Eve. They also know that we’ll be treating them well, too. Nothing but the best in hay. Blitzen needs some extra fibre in his hay for, shall we say ‘aging’ reasons, but he’s fine. He’s got a good couple of decades left before we have to groom a replacement.
The News: Other than hay, are there any special treats for the reindeer? After all, they’re your bread and butter, right?
Santa: Bread and butter, and strawberry jam, too. We couldn’t do what we do Christmas Eve without those reindeer. We treat Rudolph more special than the rest, but the others understand. Rudolph’s our leader. For instance, we take him for an annual hooficure around the first of December.
The News: A hooficure?
Santa: It’s the equivalent to a human pedicure, but for a reindeer, it’s a hooficure. He’s up and down off roofs all night on Christmas Eve, and his hooves take a beating. So we prepare those hoofs as well as possible.
The News: Any heartwarming stories this year, Santa? After all, you must talk to thousands of kids during the holiday season.
Santa: Well, of course, it’s not always me talking to the children. Many times it’s one of my assistants. I can get to every house in the world on Christmas Eve, of course, but there’s no way I can hit every shopping mall and department store on the third Saturday in November. But my assistants always file a report Monday morning and yes, there have been some heartwarming stories.
The News: Such as?
Santa: Well, there’s a young fellow in Amsterdam whose family doesn’t have a lot of money, and termites, of all things, got into his wooden shoes this summer. They crumpled like dust, so the elves put together a new pair for him. Oh, ho, ho, he is going to be very shoe-prised on Christmas morning. And there’s a little girl in Flin Flon, she’s a big hockey fan, of course, being from Flin Flon, and she loves the Winnipeg Jets.
The News: So, a Mark Scheifele sweater or Jets’ toque?
Santa: What, you think I’m a cheapskate? At the bottom of her stocking is going to be two tickets to the first Saturday night game at the MTS Centre in January, right at the red line, seven rows up.
The News: Wow, how did you score great tickets like that?
Santa: Have you ever seen me wiggle my nose? Kind of like Samantha on “Bewitched,” the old TV show. I actually taught her how to do that. But I digress É there’s also a little eight-year-old girl in Seven Persons — that’s just down the road from where you live, isn’t it? — who shovels an elderly neighbour’s sidewalk every time it snows, without being asked. There’s going to be something special for her under the tree this year, I guarantee you that.
The News: Besides the usual toboggans and Barbie dolls, what are today’s children asking for, Santa? I’m kind of out of the loop myself as far as toy trends go.
Santa: Well, technology gifts are in high demand, game consoles, etc. I never thought I’d see the day when we had a special corner of the North Pole workshop devoted specifically to artificially intelligent robot pets, but that’s a reality in 2017. And a wide variety of digital accessories. Sometimes I miss the old days when a candy cane or a Christmas orange might suffice. Kids today are pretty demanding but, hey, you’ve got to keep up with the times. I remember the good ol’ days, back when I was only 457 years old, when candy canes were about 90 per cent of my load. Now that I’m 584 — jeepers, I’m getting old! — it seems a lot of kids just have to have something electronic and shiny.
The News: Are they all so demanding?
Santa: Oh, goodness gracious no. Most of the children are generous and happy and just filled with joy. And you know what else I’ve found out? Kids these days are finding out at an earlier age that they get as much enjoyment out of giving as they do receiving gifts. So it makes my job more rewarding when I see that. The new generation of children may have different toy wishes and different lifestyles but deep down, they’re great kids and deserve everything that comes their way on Christmas morning.
The News: You’ve given us more time than normal, Santa, so we’d better hang up the phone. Anything else before we go?
Santa: Just the usual. Ho, ho, ho, and a Merry Christmas. And if you could, ask the Alberta government to make sure those proposed wind turbines are well marked. I don’t want my reindeer getting tangled up in them next year.
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