Just this week, I got a chance to interview Santa Claus, thanks to Tim Stapleton of Oregon, who has been Santa’s loyal local helper for an impressive 50 years now.
Though he wouldn’t divulge any of the big guy’s big secrets — like how you get reindeer to fly —he did offer some insight on how to maximize your chances of having Santa leave a little something extra special under the tree this holiday.
The Press: So, Santa, just how do you know if kids have been bad or good, for goodness sake?
Santa: Well, I have a magic mirror. My wife gave it to me several years ago. I use it to see if kids are playing in the street, eating their vegetables and obeying their parents in general.
The Press: Is there anything else you like to see kids do?
Santa: Well, I don’t like to see them fight with their brothers and sisters. And one little boy in the Oregon area should take note – no biting!
The Press: What happens if kids are awake when you get there?
Santa: It’s important that the children be sleeping when I get there because if they catch me putting the presents under the tree, I’ll just disappear and take them all back to the North Pole with me.
The Press: How can kids know if you’ve been there, without risking running into you as you’re working?
Santa: When I’m all finished, I ring my bells, and mommies and daddies can hear me. If kids think I might have been there, they should go ask their parents. If Mom and Dad say no, go back to bed until they tell you it’s time.
The Press: How is it that you get into people’s homes, especially if they don’t have a fireplace?
Santa: I have a magic key, which I keep attached to my magic mirror with a ribbon. The key allows me to get in if there’s no fireplace or if there’s a fire in the fireplace. I do ask that people not build a fire on Christmas Eve, if possible, though.
The Press: What is your favorite snack to find on Christmas Eve?
Santa: I like it when kids leave me cookies, Rudolph and the reindeer always appreciate some carrots.
The Press: How do you make your list?
Santa: I listen to children’s requests, and if I can bring the requested items, I will, but if I can’t, I’ll bring a surprise.
The Press: Any other advice before you have to get back to work?
Santa: Children should just remember that their parents love them very much, and part of loving their parents back is being good.
Kids who are old enough to earn some spare money by shoveling snow or doing chores can become my helpers. Take the money that you’ve earned and buy your mom and dad or your grandma or grandpa an extra present. Sign it from Santa Claus. You don’t have to say anything else.
When you see the happiness in someone’s face, you’ll find the true spirit of Christmas is really in giving a gift — not getting one.