Patrick Waksmunski/Altoona Mirror

Just days before his big night, Santa Claus answered a few pressing questions from the Observer-Reporter. This year, Santa seems a little jollier than he did in 2020. Santa and his North Pole crew have remained healthy, the Clauses were able to travel a bit more in 2021, and he feels families have become closer in the past couple years.

Ever the optimist, Santa sees good in us all, and he believes there is always hope for a better year.

O-R: Hello, Santa. So, here we are in 2021. Would you say this year was a little better than the last?

Santa: 2021 was certainly a better year than 2020. Even at the North Pole, we were able to have more get-togethers and had a much more “normal” year than last year.

O-R: Hope you all have stayed healthy in the North Pole. How have you, Mrs. Claus, the elves and reindeer been this year?

Santa: We are all doing great. Mrs. Claus has been baking like crazy; the elves have been working hard; and the reindeer and I have completed a few practice runs for our big Christmas Eve journey. Everyone here loves this time of year.

O-R: Pick out some bright spots in 2021. How should we remember this year?

Santa: This year, Mrs. Claus and I welcomed a baby elf to our crew. I cannot think of anything brighter than that. In general, this year, due to the pandemic, I believe families have become closer in a sense where they do more together and take nothing for granted.

O-R: So many things have changed since COVID-19. How has the North Pole been affected? Is toy production and distribution vastly different now than it was before COVID-19?

Santa: We follow social distancing protocols, but the process has not changed much.

O-R: Were you able to travel a little in the off-season with Mrs. Claus – with travel restrictions more lax than in 2020?

Santa: Yes. Mrs. Claus and I went on a nice beach vacation for some needed relaxation.

O-R: What do you miss most about life before COVID-19? What is the best thing that has come about as a result of the pandemic?

Santa: The best thing about the pandemic has been that it makes us appreciate all the little things that we took for granted before. We have been reminded how important it is to spend time with family and friends. It’s also reminded me what a gift our health is.

O-R: What do you think is the best way to get into the Christmas spirit?

Santa: There are so many ways: Decorating, baking, going to church, Christmas movies and carols are a few of my favorite ways to get into the spirit.

O-R: What is your Christmas timeline? Meaning what date do you first start playing Christmas music, decorating, wrapping presents, etc.? What date are you finished and ready for Christmas? And when do you take down Christmas decorations? (Or are they up all year?)

Santa: We start preparing for Christmas on Sept. 1. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a vacation and break time for all of us. The Christmas decorations stay up all year long. I can’t imagine it any other way.

O-R: How many reindeer do you have at the North Pole? And is it always the same reindeer who fly the sleigh or do you rotate them every year?

Santa: We have 25 reindeer here. I take a different group most years, but Rudolph always guides us.

O-R: How do you decide which families need scout Elves (aka Elves on the Shelves)?

Santa: I decide to send the scout elves out when I notice the parents need extra supervision in watching the children to make sure they are being good.

O-R: What is the craziest thing one of your elves has done?

Santa: One elf thought it would be funny to have spaghetti topped with strawberry, coconut, chocolate, raspberry sauce, marshmallows and S’mores Pop Tarts.

O-R: What technological advancements have helped most with how you run the North Pole?

Santa: We have made significant advancements for our assembly line and have made several updates for my sleigh.

O-R: Do you ever actually put coal in a stocking? If so, what warrants that?

Santa: Yes. Absolutely. Coal can be found in either a small box or in a stocking.

O-R: What are kids asking for this Christmas?

Santa: Hoverboards, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 5 and Barbie doll dream houses.

O-R: Why do you sometimes not give children gifts even if it’s on their lists?

Santa: It all depends on what it is. If a child age 5 asks for a cellphone, I may try to find other presents that are more fitting toward their age and ask them what they like to do.

O-R: Do the elves physically make each toy or do they have some help from Amazon?

Santa: Both. My elves still make the toys and they have some help from Amazon.

O-R: How can you instill the joy of giving in children (instead of focusing so much on receiving)?

Santa: Share personal stories that they can relate to. Take them to church and explain to them why giving is better than receiving.

O-R: What is the best gift you have ever given? And what is the best gift you have ever received? (Who was it from?)

Santa: The best gift I have ever received is my first Santa Claus suit. My great aunt sewed it. To answer the question for the best gift I have ever given, I do not know; each child has their own opinion on that.

O-R: How do you spend Christmas Day? What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?

Santa: When I get back from my long sleigh ride, I join Mrs. Claus and our whole elf department for a huge holiday feast. Then we have a gift exchange and play games and relax the rest of the day.

O-R: Santa, as always, let’s end our conversation with something uplifting. Give us hope for 2022. What would you like to see happen in the new year?

Santa: I wish that America would become more united and people would have more patience and kindness toward their fellow man. Unfortunately, I have noticed the political divide has become worse. That being said, I encourage those of you who have any negative feelings toward others to brush them away and try to do a good deed for a stranger.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

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