Santa, why do you sometimes use the same wrapping paper as my mom?
–Erin G., Jerusalem, PA
Christmas is an exciting day for everybody. Kids, North Pole Staff, and even parents. And we can hardly blame anybody if they come down and see all the presents we've left under the tree. And if they maybe want to take a little peek. I don't want to point any fingers. But the Spirit of the Holiday sometimes gets the best of us all. And having to re-wrap presents is something Moms and Dads sometimes have to do. Say hello to your brother Jason for me. He almost catches me every year. Almost!
Have you avoided using social media? Why not make it easier for children to be in touch with you via email, Facebook, and Twitter?
–Steve Y., South Bend, IN
We still like getting letters very much!
Santa, my dog Harry is so sick! I don’t think he’s going to make it to Christmas! Can you help?
–Bryant E., Tate, NM
I’m really sorry to hear about Harry. He is a great dog. Losing a pet is terrible, our cat Celery recently died. She was such a great friend to us and we felt so lucky to know her. I cried. She had gotten older and was sick, too, at the end. Patrice, one of our Master Woodworker elves, made this wonderful ornament of Celery, her paws holding up the star on the top of the Christmas tree here in the center of the village. She has these wonderful angel wings, and I can’t help but smile when I see it. It helps me remember the good times we had with Celery, when she would sit in my lap by the fire or wake us up at 4 AM to be fed. I am sending you some dog food for Harry that we used for Celery at the end of her life. It is quite tasty and really boosted her spirits toward the end of her life. I hope Harry makes it to Christmas. I would like to see him Christmas Eve and scratch behind his ear a little, like he likes it.
My mom had wanted this really pretty bracelet last year, and I had said I’d get it for her, and it felt good, since I’m doing a little bit better financially than I had been before, and she’s given me so much, but then she said she didn’t want it after all, because it was too expensive, but that she was grateful I’d considered it. So I didn’t get it. But if I got it this year, do you think it would make her happy, or will it make her sad again to think that I’m spending so much money on a present? We were not particularly well off when I was growing up.
–Margo P., Concord, NH
I think that bracelet sounds like a very nice gift. But keep the receipt. Maybe just getting the bracelet for her will be a wonderful gift, even if she can’t accept it because it's too expensive. It’s nice of you to try to buy nice things for your mom, Margo. But it will be up to her whether she wants to keep them. Your mom is so proud of you.
Christmas used to be my favorite holiday — I really love the music, especially when choirs sing it. It is like as close to the sound of magic as I think I’ve ever heard, sometimes. When I was little the holiday was so fun, with all the food and people and presents and excitement, and that magic, sort of like sprinkled over everything, because of the music in the background. But my family situation changed a few years ago, and I don't have a spouse or kids, so when I hear that music it makes me sad. What are some good ways of making new Christmas traditions?
–E., Trenton, NJ
Perhaps do what I do, give strangers gifts. They don’t have to be complete strangers. But you’ll find that doing nice things for people with no expectation to be thanked can be quite magical. And when you do nice things for people you end up feeling better. If you can’t enjoy the holidays, try to make someone else’s holiday a little more enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Go into a diner, order a hot chocolate and leave a $20 bill for the wait staff. If you make Christmas mean something less fraught for yourself, maybe you will enjoy the music again.
Santa, I don’t really have a question. I just wanted to say thanks. You made so many of my Christmases very special.
–Polly, Carson City, NV
I should be thanking you, Polly. Christmas, for me, is saying thanks to kids all over the world for being so inspiring. It’s difficult to be a child in the world, and when kids play by all the rules and thrive I’m happy to give them a little something. Thank you for being so nice, this year.
What is the deal with all the grapefruits in my stocking? I like grapefruit as much as the next guy, but you aren’t fooling anyone!!
–Tim F., Saskatchewan
Tim, I think your big sister Samantha is playing a trick on you. Ask her where those candy canes I brought are. I’m a huge fan of grapefruit, they’re quite a treat when we can get them in the North Pole. But they’re just a complete pain in the sleigh, rolling around just below my feet.
We stopped giving them out as gifts in the 1980s.
My Christmas wish is that someone I really care about didn’t have cancer anymore. Ha, I know. But maybe there’s something about putting it down in words as many times as I can that will do something, somehow!
–Rachel T., Minneapolis
That is an important Christmas wish, Rachel. I hope the person you care about doesn’t have cancer anymore, either. Last summer, Mrs. Claus found a lump in her breast. We were lucky, she caught it so early. And she is better this year, after some really scary moments. But there were many nights I was sad, angry and fearful that this disease would take Mrs. Claus away from me and our family. When people we love get sick it’s terrible. And it’s especially hard at the holidays. Sometimes all we can do is pray. And hope. Hope can be very powerful!
Was there ever a Christmas present that you couldn’t carry in your sleigh, or that fell out or something? Or like when people leave coffee cups on the roofs of their cars — anything like that?
–Miguel R., Eureka, KS
Well, Miguel, we have had our share of mishaps. Some we can’t talk about because litigation is still pending, as in the case of Grandma v. Reindeer, which will be argued in front of the Supreme Court this Spring. A puppy fell from the sleigh one year but thankfully fell into a large pine and was scared but mostly unhurt. That took our breath away. One Christmas a kid in Texas wanted “a real Optimus Prime” and her parents were pretty mad that we’d left a big rig in their backyard. The toughest Christmas ever was the one in which we couldn’t get the Culture Club cassette out of the sleigh’s cassette player. We had to deliver for 20 hours in almost complete silence until we could switch to Sleigh B over Oregon. I get my coat stuck in the door of the sleigh about 50% percent of the time.
HOLD UP, do you and Mrs. Claus have kids???
–Patty L., Marshfield, MA
We adopted a daughter many years ago who is now a senior at Indiana University. She and her girlfriend are planning to get married next year at the North Pole during the summer. Grace has been a tremendous blessing to our family and we’re so grateful that she has found someone she cares about so deeply. We’re hoping for grandchildren after they’ve finished with their Master’s degrees.
Have you ever seen or heard about a party where they actually had all the 12 groupings from the 12 Days of Christmas song? Like a crazy party where there actually were 12 lords a-leaping, eight maids a-milking, and lots of birds doing all that other stuff? That would be amazing. Kind of horrible, too, I guess, but if it had ever happened I’d love to hear about it.
–George J., Casper, WY
It’s a great Christmas song, George. But it makes for a terrible Christmas party. The milking is much less festive in real life. Swans and geese don’t get along. And partridges are not particularly fond of the smell of rotten, fallen pears.
What do you want for Christmas this year, Santa Claus?
–Dylan P., San Mateo, CA
If I had one big wish this Holiday it would be that everybody would perceive just how truly loved they are. For like a minute would just get a sense of that. Mrs. Claus and the Elves always get me nice gifts, but we don’t get to open our presents until the day after Christmas. This year I am hoping they’ve found an old book I enjoyed when I was younger. I can be very sentimental, and they are very thoughtful. And sneaky! Last year they gave me a new pair of boots. They were right where I’d left my old pair. And it took me a while of walking in the snow with them to realize they were brand new. I guess the red ribbon should have given that away.
Santa Claus lives in the North Pole, and wishes you all Happy Holidays.