The countdown is on for the jolly old elf known around the world by such names as Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, Kriss Kringle, Pere Noel, Sinter Klaas and Santa Claus, to circumnavigate the globe by sleigh in one night.
Last weekend, Santa shed some light on this routine he has perfected through the centuries. He squeezed a lot of insight into a quick interview because “there is a lot of work to be done before Christmas Eve” and some elves were “goofing off.”
Question | Santa is portrayed in so many Christmas TV specials, such as “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and “The Year Without A Santa Claus” – both voiced by Mickey Rooney – and “Frosty the Snowman,” and movies including “Miracle On 34th Street,” with Edmund Gwynn in the original production, from 1947. What’s the best of all of them, and why?
Answer | The older ones were the best. My favorite of all times is the 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” with Alastair Sim, followed by “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The best portrayal of me is “Miracle on 34th Street.” I did enjoy “The Santa Clause,” with Tim Allen, but the funniest Christmas movie is Jean Sheppard’s “A Christmas Story”; it gets funnier every time I see it. Because they run it on Christmas Eve, I had to TiVo it.
Q. | When does Christmas music get cued up every fall in your workshop at the North Pole, or do the carols play all year long?
A. | The elves get a little tired of Christmas music after they break on Christmas Eve, but after their week off between Christmas and New Year’s – you do realize that living at the North Pole, New Year’s Eve is 24 hours long with 24 celebrations – we switch to seasonal music depending on the season: jazz and blues for Mardi Gras, and patriotic music for the Fourth of July, but after Labor Day, we have to get back in the spirit so the Christmas music begins again.
Q. | What’s your favorite of all the yuletide songs?
A. | “Silent Night” – it is what I am waiting for when I return. But the season doesn’t really start until I hear LeRoy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride”; that really gets me up, especially the syncopated brass segment. I am not so happy about being accused of running “Grandma over” or a bunch of barking dogs doing “Jingle Bells.”
Q. | The order of reindeer – “Now Dasher, now Dancer ...” – as cited by Clement Clarke Moore in “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”: Is that the order that the herd is harnessed, front to back, with every annual global sleigh voyage? Or does Vixen or Blitzen or any other deer get the chance to help lead – behind Rudolph, of course?
A. | The order depends on whether the reindeer was good or bad during the year. The good reindeer lead with bad reindeer facing their butts. Rudolph is in front by himself, of course, and he flies in between the front-running reindeer so they have an unobstructed view.
Q. | How often is your order of horse, I mean, deer, power shuffled? Do they rotate in and out of slots the way Canada geese do when they fly in a V formation?
A. | No, they stay in the same order. I don’t have time to stop and switch them around. I have only the one night to make my deliveries. And I better not see any of those delivery companies’ drones; I have my own way of taking them out.
Q. | Does the trek around Earth take the same pattern year after year, and how often does inclement weather alter the course?
A. | I can run only it one way. I have to start at the International Date Line and run west in a zig-zag pattern so I stay in the same time zone for the hour and hit the next time zone as the hour strikes.
Q. | Refueling for energy in traveling around the world, what are the secret weapons that keep you and the reindeer going? Certain flavor Christmas cookies?
A. | I never found a cookie I didn’t like. I don’t have to worry about refueling. The real problem is not splitting my pants at the end of the run. I worry only about the reindeer people forgetting to put out enough carrots for them.
Q. | The British cartoon special of Raymond Briggs’ “Father Christmas,” from 1991, gave a glimpse into how you spend your free time on vacation. Once you return home by sunrise Dec. 25, what’s the first thing you like to do? Sip on some cocoa and take a “long winter’s nap”?
A. | The first thing I do is grab Mrs. Claus and catch a flight to Walt Disney World.
Q. | Anything special wish you’ve had for Christmas this year?
A. | I just wish that after all is said and done, people will remember that the real reason for the season is the birth of our Lord, and that they will obey his commandment “To love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself.” If everyone would obey God’s laws and remember that no matter what religion you are, you should respect the beliefs of others.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.