As you know, we here at Cowboy State Daily pride ourselves on our ability to track down what may be the busiest man on the planet in the days leading up to Christmas.
After making calls to several sources who will remain nameless at the risk of putting them on the “naughty list” and checking flight plans filed across the state, I was able to track down Santa Claus (aka St. Nicholas, Pere Noel, Kris Kringle, etc.) in an unnamed small community in northern Wyoming.
Recognizing me from our interview last year, the big man (again, since I share the round little belly, I’m allowed to use the phrase) kindly took time out of his busy holiday season for a quick interview to fill us in on the state of things in his world as he prepares for his round-the-globe trip on Friday night.
CSD: Thanks again for your time, Mr. Claus. I know you’re busy at this time of year.
SC: Please, call me Santa. Mr. Claus was my father. No, that’s an old joke. Actually, since I’m almost 1,900 years old, I guess I’m sort of an old joke. Far too old to stand on formalities in any case.
However, someday, you’re going to have to tell me how you track me down! I don’t mind the interview, but I like to keep my plans a pretty tightly held secret. It looks like there may be some people at the FAA getting coal this year.
But back to your question — we are indeed busy! The elves are putting the finishing touches on the toys, testing the electronics, making sure the reindeer are ready for the trip and loading the sleigh as we speak. But I’ve always got a minute or two.
CSD: How are things different for you this year from last, now that the pandemic seems to be loosening its grip on the world a bit?
SC: Oh, things are infinitely better. The best thing is I’m not hearing from so many boys and girls asking for their friends and family members to recover from COVID. Now, just for the record, making sick people well is above my pay grade. I can make them happier — but making them well is up to the doctors.
Anyway, the kids seem seem so much happier this year. I suspect it’s because they’ve been able to get out, get back to school and see their friends. While kids may complain about going to school, I think they secretly enjoy it. At least, they prefer it to staying at home and having mom or dad as their teacher. Mom and dad probably prefer it as well.
And my travel restrictions have been relaxed considerably! Last year, we all had to get tested for COVID as we flew between countries. Do you know what kind of time that takes? I was held up in customs in Canada for hours! But the Canadians are so polite that I really didn’t mind. Gave me cocoa and the reindeer some carrots while we waited for test results to come back.
CSD: What about behavior? Are more kids being good this year?
SC: You know, I think they are. As I said, I think once they were able to get out of their homes and resume a relatively normal life, a lot of stress went away. They’re nicer to each other, to their siblings and to their parents. There are a lot of adults — and you know who you are — who could learn from them.
Along those lines, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many harsh words between grown-ups as I’ve seen this year! And over the silliest things. Parking spots. Grocery carts. Movie choices. Politics. Things that really don’t matter in the long run.
You know, I’ve even gotten some Christmas letters from — what is it you call them — trolls, telling me I’m too fat, I’m judgmental and I smell of peppermint. Well, trust me, I know some trolls and most are better behaved than you lot! And remember, I have coal and unlike California, I’m not afraid to use it.
CSD: What are the popular toys this year?
SC: Oh, video games are still big, as are devices like pads and cell phones. But this year, I’m seeing more requests for the non-technical toys like Legos, dolls, board games and books. Now, this is just a theory, but I think the kids got a little burned out on screen time last year and they’re interested in toys that make them think or keep them active.
Of course, I’m getting a fair amount of requests for radio-controlled monster trucks and drones. Those are fun for the kids, but they’re kind of a liability up at the North Pole. See, about the only thing I can drive is a sleigh. I’ve caused so much property damage in the workshop with remote-controlled cars that the elves won’t let me drive them any more. They call me Evel Knievel. And not in a good way.
As a side note, more kids seem to be asking me what I want for Christmas. Which is always a nice change.
CSD: And what’s your answer?
SC: World peace. And new socks.
SC: Well, who doesn’t want world peace? And I have access to all the toys I could ever play with. And the elves — while they’re great at almost everything they do — really aren’t all that good at making clothes. Everything they make is too small. Could you imagine a man my size trying to squeeze into a sweater made for an American Girl doll? Trust me, that leaves an awful lot of belly exposed — not something that would bring the holidays home to a person.
CSD: How has the air traffic been? We’re hearing there are fewer commercial flights, so that should leave the skies more open for you.
SC: Well, last year was very quiet. Except for over Libya, where I was escorted by two jet fighters. They’re still a little upset about the shipment of coal their leaders got in 2005.
I expect things will be a little busier in the air this year, but the pilots have always been great about sharing the skies.
CSD: I’ve heard that’s because you refuse to stay in your designated flight path.
SC: Do you want to get coal?
CSD: Moving on …
SC: Look, nothing personal, but I really do have to get back to the Pole. I just got a text that a bunch of Barbie dolls are sporting G.I. Joe heads. I’ve got to get back and straighten that out.
CSD: Understood. Anything you want to say in closing?
SC: I’d just like everybody to remember that, whether you’re a believer or not, the spirit of Santa is something that should be shared with everyone.
I can’t be everywhere all the time, but maybe if you act a little more like me when you deal with each other — be a little more tolerant, a little more patient, listen a little more, speak a little less, smile more often — it will feel a bit more like Christmas through the year. And I think everybody would agree that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
And with that … Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!