Merry Christmas, Everyone! I sure hope you had a great Christmas. I know I did. Each year it seems to get better and better. I was very pleased with how well our Christmas Eve Operation went last night given all of the unexpected challenges. We ended up with 100% delivery success and initial polls show that overall satisfaction was around 97%. That's up about 4% from last year (note: last year was actually the lowest we have had since the 1940s) and back within our historically normal range.
It was a very pleasant Christmas for me. It took us about 3 hours after I landed back at the North Pole to wind down the operations. Mrs. Claus and I then had brunch together at the house. Some of the elves were kind enough to prepare it for us so that neither one of us had to cook... it was very nice of them. After brunch, Mrs. Claus and I both took a 4 hour nap. We awoke around 2pm NPT but only because I had set the alarm. Its a good thing I did because we had to get up and prepare Christmas dinner. We invited about a dozen of our closest friends over for dinner. It's nothing fancy but its one of my favorite things about the season.... we (read: Mrs. Claus) make good food, its a great atmosphere, and we share laughs with good friends. We just use the dining room but on Christmas, with the dining room tree (it's a 10-footer, decorated with multi-color lights and hand-made ornaments we have received as gifts from children all over the world... every country is represented) glowing, tens of candles flickering, and the floor-to-ceiling windows revealing the snowy scene outside, and a huge fire roaring in the stone fireplace, the atmosphere was hard to beat. We sat for hours after dinner drinking coffee, sharing memories, and making plans for the future. I hope all of you had a chance to connect with friends and family the way Mrs. Claus and I were able to tonight.
After everyone left and Mrs. Claus went to bed, I retired to the den and took a seat in my recliner. I turned all the lights off except the Christmas tree lights and the lights in the garland that draped all the windows. The fire was burning low in the fireplace and about a dozen candles on the mantle were lit. I started to turn the TV on but then decided not to... instead I turned on the sound system and tuned the satellite radio to the Christmas music channel. I grabbed one last cup of Christmas Blend coffee (I won't drink anymore until next year) and settled in my recliner. I just sat there and enjoyed the moment... soaking in every last precious moment of Christmas. I didn't think about old memories or make plans for the future... I was just truly in the moment. I don't know about you but its rare I do that. I am always thinking about what's next... two, three, four moves down the road. I don't think much about the past other than to consider what I can learn from it but thinking about "what's next" often keeps me out of the moment. So tonight was special. It is something I need to apply more often. If you haven't taken time to just sit and enjoy a quiet, still moment during this very special... even magical... time of year, I encourage you to do so. You will be amazed at the pure joy it provides.
It's time now for me to "hit the hay". It's been an amazing run to and through Christmas this year. As we close this season, I want you to know how much I appreciate all of you. I hope that my role as Santa Claus serves to provide you with joy, hope, and belief. I pray the spirit of Christmas and its true meaning will be with you through out the year ahead. May God bless you and all of your loved ones.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a very blessed night!
Friday, December 25, 2009
Merry Christmas, Everyone! I sure hope you had a great Christmas. I know I did. Each year it seems to get better and better. I was very pleased with how well our Christmas Eve Operation went last night given all of the unexpected challenges. We ended up with 100% delivery success and initial polls show that overall satisfaction was around 97%. That's up about 4% from last year (note: last year was actually the lowest we have had since the 1940s) and back within our historically normal range.
...and to all a Good Night!
The last presents have been delivered, the last cookie eaten, the last glass of milk consumed, and the last stocking filled.
I just recieved the "All Clear" signal from the North Pole Headquarters. We are pointing the sleigh due north and returning home. I hope everyone has had as much fun this Christmas Eve as I have had tonight. Tomorrow is going to be the best Christmas yet!
I will not update my log until late in the day to day as I plan on enjoying Christmas brunch with Mrs. Claus and taking a nap.
Good night, all!
"And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I am just entering Alaska. It feels like being back home at the North Pole. Talk about cold! Brrr. I am still behind schedule but we will easily finish our work this evening before the sunrises and kids wake up. It's been a good night... even with a few unexpected challenges along the way.
From here, I will head south to the Hawaiian Islands. I'll make a few stops between but I can shed the jacket for a few minutes and swap out my Starbucks Christmas blend coffee for some 100% Kona coffee while I'm cruising through the Islands. I love it down there!
Mrs. Claus and I will be back in the Islands for our annual vacation in a little more than a week. Can't wait!
To all of you now awake across Europe, Asia, Africa, & Australia/Oceania... Merry Christmas!
I am still tracking behind schedule but the weather is much, much better. I am currently in the Damascus, Oregon area after spending some time in western Canada.
Once again this year, I spent a little extra time in Vancouver, BC with a little girl I know that is fighting cancer as well. I'll spend time with her sister as well. Regrettably, I can't let them see me... but I am so proud of both of them that I want to take a little time and make sure they are tucked in and sleeping well. It was a tough year for both of them as there were additional follow-up surgeries. Life seems to be a roller coaster when you are battling something like this.
All I can say is that I really admire the entire family for how they handle this along with all the other challenges life brings us. It is not easy but they are doing it. Day to day they are making life go on. As I said last year, I never cease to be amazed by the strength and character of children that face cancer. They are wise & strong beyond their years. And they are truly an inspiration to me. Its well worth spending a few extra minutes with them.
I have deliveries to make so I'm going to sign-off for now. I'll post again soon.
I am behind schedule and experiencing some technical difficulties as I move towards the west coast. I have crossed the Rocky Mountain range in North America and am experiencing much better weather conditions; however, due to the storm across the mid-western United States, I am about an hour behind where I would like to be.
The weather in the midwestern United States is very challenging right now. We are approximately 30 minutes behind schedule already. The reindeer are having to work very hard as we press against gusting headwinds. Its been very difficult to control the sleigh. I am carrying a fraction of the normal payload or otherwise I don't believe we could keep this thing in the air.
On the ground, due to the sheets of ice, we are having to land in front yards and on neighborhood roads and have me hike (with a pair of crampons on my boots) up to and into the houses. The winds are almost blowing me sideways and snow is falling at the rate of about half a foot an hour where I am at currently.
We'll be headed back for yet another replenishment stop here in a minute. With the lighter load maximums, we are having to stop many more times than normal. The reindeer are looking forward to the break though as they are working hard!
Ok kids... I might be a bit behind schedule and I might have a few challenges, but I am - without question - coming to town. So get to bed!!
Oh.. one last note... given the weather, my posts may be a bit delayed and not just because of technology issues but also because I am going to be largely pre-occupied with navigating this storm, surviving the night, and finishing my deliveries. Don't worry if there is a bit of delay... I am ok.
No... not THAT one. Elvis. I am currently looking down at the blue lights of Graceland. What a beautiful sight!
But I can't look too long... we have to clear this airspace quickly. And that is going to be challening given the current weather conditions. This has already been a very difficult night. I anticipate it only growing more challenging as I head into the heart of the storm.
Our friends at FedEx are holding their routes so that we can deliver our presents across the Memphis metro area. I'll be zig-zagging across from Lakeland, TN to Hernando, MS over the next hour or so. I need to stay on time so that I can clear the airspace and let our partners at FedEx (we do a lot of business with them... they help with distribution from our North Pole, China, & India production facilities to our replenishment centers) get back in the air. We definitely don't want them missing their deliveries! So kids... if you live in the mid-South of the United States, its time to get to bed!
The weather is nice here in Miami. Unfortunately I can't stay very long. I will be headed west and into the storm pretty soon.
As you know, I am constantly getting updates from the North Pole Headquarters. I regret to tell you that once again this year, almost a 100 addresses have been removed from my list of places to stop. The Naughty & Nice list is changing even as we speak.
Kids - please make sure you are behaving your parents tonight. You don't want your address to be removed from my list!
I'll post again soon.
I am back in Manchester. And specifically, I am sitting on the roof of a row of flats where I had a reporter try to catch me last year. He was sneaky guy. And you can bet he was on last year's naughty list and he is on this year's as well. What he did was NOTHING like the girl did this morning in Can Tho... completely different motivation and intent.
I just got back from inside the flat. I must admit I was a little nervous going in again but everything was fine. It was quite interesting to go back in and see everything as it really is supposed to be.
Ok... I'm headed out across the Atlantic soon. Keep following me cause I'll be talking to you soon!
I just got off the phone with Candy, our North America GM, Jingle, my Chief of Staff, and Mrs. Claus who is leading the entire operation tonight from the North Pole Headquarters. The weather across central North America is beginning to worry me. The snow and ice I can deal with... it would be silly to think different... I do live at the North Pole after all! But I am worried about the wind. Winds are beginning to gust at speeds that will cause significant issues for our reindeer.
The logistics team back at the North Pole is currently running scenarios where I could carry a much lighter load (as little as 25% of my normal load) as I travel through the worst of the weather. That means I would have to make multiple (up to 4x as many) replenishment stops. But they are worried the reindeer can not handle the high winds with a full load. They'll keep working on it. I am sure we'll have something figured out by the time we get there. One thing I know for sure... I'm going to replenish my hot coffee before I cross the Appalachian mountains.
Ok kids on the east coast of North, South, and Central America... particularly those of you in Brazil... you need to be going to sleep. I'll be there before you know it.
I am just leaving Greece. What a great country. I just love visiting here. Mrs. Claus and I try to spend a week here every August. We rent a little villa on one of the islands (I can't say which...) and just relax. We really enjoy walking into town each morning to shop for breakfast at the market and in the evenings to have dinner at some of the local cafes.
All is well. I am staying very comfortable in my new suit as it adjusts to all the changing tempratures. The on-board beverage machine is keeping me hydrated and I'm interchanging between hot coffee and iced coffee as I change climates.
For those of you that have been emailing me... the reindeer are all fine. They still have lots of energy left! Can you imagine what kind of shape they are in to make this happen?
Ok... I am getting deeper into Western Europe... you kids need to get to bed!
It is cold here! But I am quite comfy actually in my new Therma-FIT Santa suit. I am currently in Russia. Actually given the size of Russia, I have been zig-zagging in and out of the country all night. Everything seems to be going well. Of course, we have had our typical number of small mishaps -you can't run an operation this large and this complex and expect everything to be perfect - but everything is on track.
I am currently sipping on big mug of half-caff (half decaf, half regular) Christmas Blend coffee. Love this stuff. The sleigh is being replenished, the reindeer are getting massages, and the elves are checking weather for the remainder of the evening.
I always enjoy visiting the folks in Russia. Many of you may not know this but I come here twice a year! Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th so I come back the night of January 6th to visit them. I always find it funny that I may visit one house tonight and a couple of weeks from now I'll be back to visit the next door neighbor... but I want to respect their beliefs. The important thing is that they celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus... the date really doesn't matter to me.
Alright... I am getting the signal to move on. Will talk to you soon.
We just had a scary moment in the African bush. I sat the sleigh down at a camp in Botswana (Little Vurumba camp) while I delivered toys in the nearby village. There are not a lot of people that celebrate Christmas and believe in me here in this part of Africa. Given that, along with the small shelters and makeshift house that make up the village, I usually land and deliver the presents by foot. I mostly bring food and essentials when I visit these small villages.
While I was in town, Elroy (the elf that was accompanying me through this region) watched over reindeer while they ate and drank (Blitzen actually decided to take a power nap instead of eating). But to their surprise, a lion appeared out of the bush. She must have caught the scent of the reindeer and started salivating. She stared at them for a moment and then lept toward Comet. Fortunately, Elroy was already in the sleigh (I think he was taking a power nap himself actually) so the reindeer were able to escape. Startled, they ran quickly across the plain for about 50 meters before actually taking flight and coming to a rest just outside the house I was in at the time. Donner tweaked his leg on the panicked run across the plain but it is not serious... otherwise, there was no harm done. I think Elroy's heart is still racing though.
Ok... all you kids in Europe... go to bed! I am headed that way.
Merry Christmas, Everyone! I am very happy to report that all is on schedule for this Christmas Eve.
At the moment, I am just leaving the city of Can Tho in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. There are actually more people that celebrate Christmas here and believe in me that most Europeans and Amercians realize. Most kids set out shoes on the door step rather than hang stockings, so I stuff them with goodies. And let me tell you... the snacks I get here are fantastic! And fairly healthy too.
Anyway, I just had an encounter with a little girl here in Can Tho who actually "set a trap" for me. She managed to fool my elf scout team into believing she was asleep on the floor next to the tree. I saw the security video that the elves were streaming live to me on the sleigh before I landed and it was just so cute it was hard to believe that she was faking it. But she was. As soon as I popped in the door (there was not a chimney large enough to get down), she jumped up and screamed "Santa!".
I started back through the doorway in full retreat. The elves swept in to surround the house, prepared to erase any video evidence of my presence. Even the reindeer got antsy at the sound of her announcement. Surprisingly though, no one else in the house woke up.
As I got back to the sleigh, I was reminding myself of the standard protocol. If a child catches a glimpse of me, I must leave immediately whether or not I have delivered the gifts. I only return if the security team deems it safe and I have time to return. We can not jeopardize the schedule to return to a house where the kids were awake when I arrived.
Something like this happens every Christmas Eve... often multiple times in one night. And I always follow the standard protocol. But tonight seemed different for some reason... it didn't feel right to follow the protocol.
I climbed out of my sleigh and back down to the door. This time I actually knocked... I don't know why but I did. The little girl opened the door, grinning ear to ear, and invited me in. She apologized for surprising me but explained it was the only way she could meet me. She asked if she could wake her brothers and have them meet me. Against my better judgement, I said yes.
She woke them. By now Jingle was madly texting me to get moving. But I decided to stay for a moment and meet them all. I had to decline photos but we all exchanged hugs before I handed out their gifts. As humble as the gifts were, they loved them. I could see the excitement and gratitude in their eyes. They followed me out as I left and waved as we pulled up into the air and on to the next neighborhood.
I don't know why... I suspect I will never know "why"... but for some reason I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I was meant to spend some time with those kids tonight. I won't be breaking protocol any time soon but I am confident I did the right thing by going back and seeing that (very crafty) little girl and her brothers.
Well.... I have to get back to delivering gifts. Keep on the look-out for me!
As we were cruising through China and approaching Beijing, suddenly all kinds of alarms and alerts went off in the sleigh. I looked at the radar and saw 3 Chinese fighter jets closing in. Seconds later Jingle, based at the Flight Operations Center, was screaming at me over the radio warning me to prepare for defensive maneuvers. But the fact was, I could now see the jets... they zipped head on toward and past me... one overhead and one on each side. This was completely unexpected. There had been no formal communication. I was starting to get worried. Rudolph dropped us down in a near verticial descent... the toys shifting to the front so violently it almost knocked me out of the sleigh. He pulled up just 500 feet from the ground. And the jets, having circled back around followed. They pulled up beside and behind me. They were close enough I felt I could reach out and touch the wings and I certainly could see them. There was still no radio contact with the pilots but they were clearly motioning for me to land.
I informed Jingle of what was happening though he could observe most of it from the on-board cameras, satellite imagery, and radar. He advised that I land and informed me that he and some of the other senior staff would depart for Beijing within the half-hour to meet with Chinese officials to sort this out. He also told me that Mrs. Claus was already contacting heads of State to make them aware and ask that they stand by in case their help was need to help resolve the situation.
I landed just outside Beijing. I have to admit I was nervous. As we touched down, a local government official walked up to the sleigh, flanked by several army personnel. I sat in the sleigh, deciding it was best not to appear aggressive. "Merry Christmas" I said. He did not reply but the look he gave screamed "Bah Humbug" back at me. He started to lecture me in English (which by the way, his English was very good) but switched when I replied in Mandarin. It turns out we had forgotten to submit a two-page form granting air space rights for the evening. After some debate, he agreed to let me fill out the form and proceed. I had to radio back to the North Pole to have Jingle help me answer some of the questions on the form but I was able to complete it fairly quickly. Meanwhile, the soldiers at the airbase, obviously quite impressed and enamored by the reindeer, brought oats and fruit to the reindeer.
Once the form was complete, the official stormed back to his office building and we were given permission to depart. I didn't waste any time getting off the ground and making my way as quickly as possible through and out of Beijing.
The good news is we made up time and I still appear to be on-track. I will see the rest of you very soon!
I am at the first replenishment center in Australia. Due to security reasons, I can not tell you the exact location of the center.
We are actually slightly ahead of schedule after passing through most of the South Pacific islands and completing our deliveries through out Australia and New Zealand. The reindeer are currently unreined and in "cooling stations" that we put in last year after the heat really took its toll on the reindeer team. With us being ahead of schedule, it will allow us keep the reindeer in the cool air for a longer period. They are eating during this time as well. I am drinking an iced Christmas Blend coffee myself... decaf, I might add. Its quite refreshing.
So keep on the look out for me and stay nice! From here, I head north to Indonesia and then up into Japan & the rest of Asia. Be getting in bed, kiddos!
Hello everyone! I am in the sleigh, moments from take-off, and posting to this web-page via satellite communications. I will be keeping you posted here at my blog, on Twitter.com via @NorthPoleCEO, and on www.noradsanta.org. Please know that there may be some delays in postings at times due to varying flight conditions.
This is going to be the best Christmas Eve ever!
"Now Dasher! now Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! on Cupid! on Donder and Blitzen! Lead the way Rudolph!"
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The time is now! It is approximately 11pm NPT on December 23rd and I have just officially announced the initiation of Operation Christmas Eve 2009. The entire North Pole Inc. operation is mobilized and the final preparations leading up to my launch - approximately 1 hour from now - are underway. We will be going full speed for the next 26 to 27 hours (including the hour prior to launch and the 2 to 3 hours it takes to wind down the operation upon return).
We have all been going full speed almost all day. I say almost because: 1) for the first time in years I actually took a power nap. I slept for 2 hours this evening, waking just in time to shower and declare the start of the operation. 2) The reindeer took a 4 hour nap earlier. They are awake now and are eating their traditional carbo-loading meal of oats. 3) Mrs. Claus and I actually took time out to have dinner together this evening, as is our tradition. Otherwise, it has been virtually non-stop with most everyone running on just an hour of two of sleep last night.
Ok... its time to get going and get suited up in my brand-new Santa apparel. Look for my updates here, via Twitter.com, and at www.noradsanta.org throughout the next 27 hours or so.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Now THAT was a lot of fun! I just dropped off Megan and Allison, the winners of this year's "Good Deeds @ Christmas" contest.
Rudolph and I arrived just after dark, landing first on the roof of Megan's house. As you can expect, there were quite a few people in the front yard including media. I am guessing it was about a hundred or so kids. Megan's dad had set up a ladder since there was no chimney... plus we had to get Megan up to the sleigh. After I shook hands, gave out hugs, and kissed a couple of babies, I brought Megan and her parents up to the roof with me where they took tons of photos with Rudolph and me. Pretty soon I could here Jingle chirping over the radio that we were behind schedule... so we buckled Megan up and lifted off for Allison's house. Megan screamed for joy the entire way! Clearly she had no fear.
At Allison's house, there were even more people. But they had cleared the street for us. So Rudolph took us in for a nice smooth landing, coming to a stop right in front of the house. Allison ran out full speed and jumped in my arms. Then she leaped over to Megan, hugging her and saying "Thank you, thank you, thank you!".
After the photo opportunities with Allison's family, including her two brothers, Allison and Megan climbed back into the sleigh. Rudolph decided to show off a little and lifted off in a near vertical rise. I felt my stomach jump into my throat it was so fast but as I looked at the girls, they were grinning ear to ear. Rudolph made one quick loop around the house, giving the girls a chance to wave and then it was a straight line for the North Pole.
As we left the Vancouver area, I put special high-tech warming blankets over the girls to make sure they didn't get cold. I also served them hot chocolate from my on-board hot chocolate machine. They loved it. And just as they finished the last drop, we began our descent.
Both girls gasped as we came out from the clouds and the magical lights of the North Pole Village glimmered below. As many times as I have seen that sight, it never grows old. It always amazes me. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone seeing it for the first time.
We touched down on the launch pad at the Flight Operations Center. Jingle and all the other reindeer on my #1 reindeer team were waiting. I introduced everyone... the girls hugging Jingle and each of the reindeer as I made the introductions. After introductions, Jingle hurried us all off to staff meeting. I explained to them that they were going to get to sit in one of my Christmas week staff meetings. They were so excited. And they were full of questions as we walked from the Flight Operations Center to the main HQ building. Wide-eyed and firing questions. I tried to answer as many as I could while keeping pace... we were already late for staff meeting.
When we got there, each of my senior staff introduced themselves. Each had a small gift they had personally made for each of the girls. The girls could barely sit still they were so excited as we began the staff meeting. It was a typical agenda for this time of year... update on Christmas Eve weather forecasts, naughty and nice high level review, and status reports from all areas. I was very pleased that the girls were able to hear that everything is right on track. We are well on our way to the best Christmas Eve ever.
Staff meeting only lasted 30 minutes. We have to be crisp and to the point this time of year. Every minute is valuable. From staff meeting we walked back to the house. Mrs. Claus was waiting with cookies and hot chocolate. The girls jumped into Mrs Claus' arms. They kept saying how surprised they were that she looked so young and so beautiful... not at all what they had pictured. They had even more questions... which I didn't think was possible... for Mrs. Claus. So we all sat down with hot chocolate and cookies (peanut free as Allison is allergic) while Mrs. Claus answered the questions as fast as the two girls could fire them off.
After about 45 minutes, Jingle came in and reminded me we needed to get going if the rest of my night would remain on schedule. Mrs. Claus said she wanted to come along for the ride back... the girls practically burst with excitement at learning Mrs. Claus would go along for the ride. So we all headed back, loaded up, and took off. Rudolph gave us a much tamer lift off this time. He made a low pass over the Village Square as we started to head out. The girls looked down in the square to see thousands of elves waving good bye.
As we approached Vancouver, I asked Rudolph to make a couple of quick circuits around town so the girls could see the city the way I do... plus none of us were ready for this to end. There are very few things I enjoy more than seeing kids get so much enjoyment as they did from this sleigh ride. It really warms the heart. I am convinced this is what keeps me young and alive.
We did eventually set down at Allison's house. Megan's parents were there as well so we dropped both girls at that point. They gave Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, and me big hugs. "I will see you in 48 hours or so", I said. "But you won't see me. I won't be back until you are asleep. Those are the rules of Christmas Eve. Now be good!" We hopped in the sleigh and headed back.
I am writing this post on the trip back. We are almost back to the North Pole. It was so much fun. Rudolph and I will drop Mrs. Claus off, pick up Jingle, and head to a mall in Honolulu... so much left to do today.
Be good! Santa Claus is coming to town.
Monday, December 21, 2009
I am very pleased to announce that Megan's good deed, posted earlier this week, was the winner in this first-ever "good deeds @ Christmas" contest. Her post is displayed below.
Megan requested that the sleigh ride go to her friend, Allison, in the event she won. I was so touched by Megan's selfless actions that I have opted to take both girls on the sleigh ride. Rudolph and I will pick them up at their respective houses in Vancouver, BC tomorrow night. It will then be a short hop to the North Pole where both girls will meet the other reindeer, the elves, and, of course, Mrs. Claus before returning home.
Congratulations Megan & Allison! I will see you tomorrow night just after dark. And for all of you in British Columbia, keep an eye out for Rudolph's shiny nose!
Remember - that first Christmas changed everything! Can Christmas still change the world? What will you do about it this Holiday season?
Merry Christmas, All!
I am in 4th grade. This morning I decided to crack open my piggy bank and see how much money I had saved. I have been planning on buying an iPod. All my other friends have one except me. They laugh when I tell them my parents will not buy me one. I have been saving for almost the entire year... putting birthday money, allowance, everything in the piggy bank. But yesterday I learned that one of my friends is dropping out of school and moving over the Christmas break. Yesterday was their last day at school. Her dad lost his job and they have to move to live with her grandparents. She said they wouldn't have Christmas this year because it simply costs too much. So I counted my piggy bank money this morning, put it in a bag, then rode my bike over to my friends house. I gave her the money. I told her that I want her to buy something for herself or her brother or her parents but I want to make sure they have Christmas presents this year. And Santa, if I win the sleigh ride, I want to give it to my friend. She needs it more than I do. Her name is Allison Macy. I hope I can win so Allison can have a good Christmas. Thank you so much Santa! Love, Megan
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I LOVE THIS WEEK! This is when the excitement really begins. There is so much going on. In between hundreds of public appearances, I sit in on meetings reviewing the Naughty & Nice lists, Christmas Eve weather forecasts, production & inventory numbers, and various operational readiness reviews. I also tour production facilities here at the North Pole as well as India & China where we have added capacity over the past few years. I visit Replenishment Centers around the world. I meet with diplomats to shore up air space rights for Christmas Eve. I meet with CEOs to push for filling last minute supply needs. I take test runs with the sleigh.
On the personal front, I try to stay up to date and read as much current news as possible. Mrs. Claus and I also find time to have at least one meal a day together. I try to stay fit too in the days leading up to Christmas Eve so I wake extra early to go for a run or lift weights. And of course there are several parties this week that I have been invited to by friends... I usually go but can not afford to stay long.
And I try to make a point to get some time in my own personal toy making shop so that I can make the 100 or so very special toys I make & deliver each year. Look for my very special stamp on the bottom of your toy... if its there, you will know I personally made it just for you!
Its just so festive here this week as well. We burn the Christmas lights 24 hours a day for this final week. The big countdown clock in the North Pole Village Square begins its countdown.... of course, there are countdown clocks in virtually everyone of the North Pole Inc. facilities. There are choirs of elves wandering around the village singing carols. Christmas music is pumped into every elevator and waiting area. The smell of baking cookies and other goodies just permeate every part of the Village.
So obviously I will not sleep much this week. But its great! I am so excited about this Christmas Eve, I think it will be one of the best ever, that I feel like I have endless energy. Speaking of all the things I need to do, I have a staff meeting in 10 minutes so I better get going.
Oh yeah... a couple of reminders before I sign off here and push the "publish" button...
1) The deadline for getting your request in is fast approaching. Standard letters need to arrive by 11:59PM Tuesday. Email and texts can arrive approximately 4 hours later at 3:00am on Wednesday.
2) If you want to enter the Good Deeds Contest and win a sleigh ride with Rudolph and me, you need to get your post in by early tomorrow morning. I plan to announce the winner Monday night NPT. Enter your good deeds submission in the comments of the 10 December 2009 post.
Merry Christmas, All! Enjoy this festive week!
For Immediate Release
REQUEST DEADLINE ANNOUNCED
11:59pm on Tuesday, December 22nd is the requested deadline for letters to Santa. Santa and the entire North Pole team love making the wishes and dreams of children real. As such, letters will be received and processed on a good faith effort after the 11:59pm deadline; however, for best results, you should plan to have your letter arive prior to the deadline.
The requested deadlines for email and/or text message letters is four hours later at 4:00am on Wednesday, December 23rd.
Please direct all media inquires to Nova in Public Relations
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Q. Santa, concerning your luscious beard I was wondering if any product is used. The way it shines and radiates your inner beauty leaves me breathless. What kind of sorcery are you practicing here? Have you ever considered cheating on Mrs. Claus?
A. I am so glad you like my beard. But who do you think I am... Tiger Woods?! Have you seen Mrs. Claus?! Are you nuts?! She is hot.
Back to my beard though. I don't do anything with it other than trim it to keep it from getting too wild. All my hair turned silvery white when I was still very young so I wasn't too surprised that it was solid white when I did finally decide to grow a beard. I guess I was fortunate I didn't have to deal with a salt & pepper beard. I can tell you though... more than a few marketing people have tried to convince me to dye it brown, cut it back to a goatee, or shave it off all together in an effort to update my image. I keep resisting. Partly because its tradition but mostly because Mrs. Claus really, really likes the beard.
Q. Why do my friends always get more than I do. Do you like them better?
A. Yes. Yes, I do like them better... NOT. I am just kidding, of course. The calculation to determine who gets what is very long and complex; too much so to describe here. But rest assured it is a fair process that is designed to best suit your personal needs. And as you well know, while your friends may occasionally get more than you do, you receive way more than many other people yourself. The key thing for you to take away is this: focus on what you have, count your blessings, and do not be envious of what other people have. You will live a much happier, fulfilled, and longer life if you can do that.
Q. Santa do you really go to all the houses in 1 night?
A. I do. I had a similar question last year and I responded with the following: The key is North Pole Time. I am not the right person to explain exactly how it works. It is far too technical for me but, I can say that because we sit at the junction of all the time zones, there are some unique capabilities we have realized in moving easily between time zones. That - in and of itself - is not all that remarkable. But there is something magical about how we can travel within a time zone and return to the North Pole - no matter how long we have been gone - within the same hour we left as long as we arrive & depart from the Launch pad. The Launch pad is directly on the true North Pole. Time doesn't stop so much as it "re-sets". That's not the best description either but its the closest I can relay at this point. It is this capability that we leverage to deliver to 302M homes in a 24 hour period. If you want to know how we determine how many homes, see my December 20, 2007 post
Q. Oh Santa Claus, how do you get into my house on Christmas Eve? We have a small chimney.
A. I am much thinner than I appear. You would be surprised at how many chimney's I can actually get down. I had a similar question on this last year; here is how I responded: Where the chimneys are large enough for me (and many are; I'm not a big as you might think), I have a special dive that I use. But the most important thing for you to remember is that chimney diving is not for everyone. You have to be very well trained. I have trained for years. You should never try it under any circumstance. So with all that said, the fact of the matter is that there are many houses where the chimney is too small for me. In those cases, I enter through other means. I have several scout teams of elves that go in ahead of me to 1) validate I can fit through the chimney, 2) identify alternate entry paths, 3) disable alarms, 4) confirm that everyone in the house is asleep. With their advance information, I really don't have any problems. Now... to your question about breaking and entering... technically it would be in almost every legal jurisdiction around the world except I have a huge legal team that has negotiated special rights for me that allow me to enter. Those rights are only valid on Christmas Eve. And let's face it, when you leave gifts, people don't complain. Now many cities around the world granted me the rights only if I leave gifts, which is why now in many places I just skip a house rather than leaving coal. Coal doesn't legally qualify as a gift... so I just skip the houses in those jurisdictions completely if the residents are on the naughty list.
Q. What's your thoughts on match making Santa? Think for Christmas this year I could get clarity on finding a wife?
A. Russ, thank you for the question. As I have said many times before, I do not deliver wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, etc. I am also not much of a match-maker. That is really Mrs. Claus' domain. As much as I hate to admit it because I often accuse her of meddling, the fact is she has an unbelievable knack of bringing couples together. My advice though for you is to stop trying so hard to find a wife. Just relax, be yourself, and take the time to enjoy the company & friendship of the women you date... don't be in a rush to get serious. And don't settle either. That's the risk when you are just looking to find a wife - you end up marrying the first one to return your interest, whether or not she is truly the 'one'. But trust me... when the 'right one' comes around, you will both know it. It will be undeniable. In the meantime, just be patient.
Q. My daughter has requested to be a mermaid for a day and nothing else - any idea how to overcome this?
A. Meridith - I must recieve 10,000 requests a year from little girls to "be a mermaid". As you know, we can't just go around changing people into mermaids. Even if we had that magical power (which I do not!), it just wouldn't be right. There are way too many unintended and unwanted consequences. Here are a few ideas... there are quite a few mermaid outfits available at costume stores and online. I checked our North Pole Inc. inventory and we are out but I am sure you could find one. Start by clicking the "online" link above. Alternatively, you could take her to a water park for a day and let her experience what it might be like to be a mermaid. There are lots of water parks out there but if you could somehow get to the water parks at Disney World, you'd certainly be able to weave a "Little Mermaid" theme throughout the vacation.
Friday, December 18, 2009
You all asked some great questions again this year. Thank you! I going to spread my answers over two days... today and tomorrow... as you asked a lot of good questions and I am really tight on time this week. After you read my answers today, you can click here to read the Q&A from last year as well. I hope you find this informative and entertaining.
Q. Why when you where at the Macy's parade did you say "Happy Thanksgiving" instead of what I have always heard you say "Merry Christmas"? What's wrong with saying Merry Christmas? Isn't that what your about I mean your Santa Claus but don't you and Christmas go together?
A. You must not have heard all of it... I said "Happy Thanksgiving" and "Merry Christmas" interchangeably. It was Thanksgiving, after all. And for the record... there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying "Merry CHRISTmas". In fact, I make a point of saying it rather than Happy Holidays (though on occasion I do say Happy Holidays too). If people stop saying Merry Christmas then we will eventually lose the Christmas holiday altogether. You should check my 15 December 2009 post to see how I feel about so called "political correctness".
Q. Santa, you are known primarily for your generosity to children (I've often heard you referred to as the Patron Saint of Children when people call you St. Nicholas) and have made so many happy with the things you've brought over the years. I'm curious as to what is on Santa's wish list?
A. Thank you for asking. It is very thoughtful of you to be concerned. I really don't want anything material. Realistically, I can have anything material... I have been blessed with the means such that I could either build or acquire virtually anything. What I want most is peace and joy for the world. I know it sounds cliche but it is truly what I want most. Ironically, its one of the few things I can't make happen... if I could, I would have done it years ago. Instead, I just do my part, as small as it may be in the grander scheme. And, of course, selfishly, I want to continue to be loved by those closest to me... I never want to lose their love and admiration.
Q. Do you prefer a certain type of milk?
A. Cow's milk to begin with. And while I like full on milk, I choose to drink fat free milk. It's a choice I make for my health, not for the taste.
A. Unfortunately, I did not. I managed with Jingle's help to post a picture of some of the reindeer. Other than that, I haven't figured out how to up load them. Its a shame because I took a lot of pictures through the off season hoping to post them but haven't been able to do so.
Q. I read through the questions from last year, but I'm wondering, did you ever find out how to post pictures? Perhaps I missed something, did you ever get around to posting any?
Q. My question is....Santa, do you ever get any rest?
A. Yes. Just not between late November and December 25th. I sleep about 2 hours a night during the build-up to Christmas Eve. Don't get me wrong.... I work hard year round. In fact, most week nights during the "off-season", I sleep about 4 to 5 hours a night. But I do get rest. I catch up on the weekends when I sleep in. I often do not wake until almost noon on Saturdays during the off-season. And I take Sunday afternoon naps as well during the off-season. My vacations are also a key time to rest and re-charge. Once I am on vacation, I completely relax and shut-down. So don't worry... I do get rest. And during this Christmas season when I am burning the candle at both ends, I have an almost magical energy. I do get tired but its not that deep exhaustion you might expect given my schedule. Just the thought of Christmas Eve gets me revved up and ready to go whenever my energy levels might slide. Besides, I have December 26th to look forward to! I'll spend that day like I am in a coma.
Q. Santa, what are your travel plans after the holidays? I know you like to spend time in Hawaii, but have you considered somewhere more exotic...possibly Southeast Asia perhaps?
A. Its funny you should ask. I will go to Hawaii like I do every year but I do plan to go to Thailand... likely Koh Samui island... this spring. I hear its wonderful. And yes... I have vacationed a number of times, usually brief stays, in Southeast Asia. My favorite places in Southeast Asia include the Six Senses Hideaway in Vietnam and a number of different resorts in Phuket. Indonesia is nice as well but I am always worried about my security when I am there. I feel much safer in Vietnam and Thailand. I am also considering Africa for a vacation this year.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I have to admit that I got really frustrated today. As I was walking through a mall today in the San Francisco Bay Area - waving and saying "Merry Christmas" - a man tugged on my sleeve and literally pulled me to the side. Of course, I knew who he was immediately. And I instantly recalled the first day he went on the naughty list at the age of 8. He hasn't been off that list since. I also knew exactly what was coming... a lecture. Let's just call him Bill for the purposes of this post as I don't want to reveal his real name. But Bill is that kind of guy - and we all know one - that thinks he is better than everyone else. Superior. You know the type... they are the ones that always have a condescending tone in their voice as they explain how they might do something different. They don't directly address their concern with you but they make their point in a not-so-subtle manner.
So Bill literally pulls me aside. My security team immediately pops out of the shadows and quickly surrounds Bill. I wave them aside. Bill is annoying but he is not a threat. He steps up to me and says, "My name is Bill. It's my pleasure to meet you. What is your name?"
"Santa", I say.
Bill rolls his eyes and chuckles. "No. I mean your real name." He stopped believing when he was 7 years old. What a shame. Who knows how different his life might be if he still believed in the magic of the Christmas Spirit and all of the possibilities this world offers? But he doesn't. He has it all figured out in his own mind. There is no need and no time for wonder.
"Really... I am Santa Claus. But I know you don't believe, Bill. Its ironic that your parents, William Sr. and Angela, both believed their entire lives. Usually the parents stop believing and the kids keep the hope alive... at least for a few years." As I said his parent's names, I saw a brief look of surprise but it quickly disappeared.
Bill turned red. But he quickly controlled his voice and spoke with an obviously forced calm. "Ok then... Santa... I just wanted to let you know that all of us may not celebrate Christmas. If I were playing Santa Claus at the mall, I would say 'Happy Holidays' so as not to offend anyone. Have you considered that option or, perhaps, other alternatives to 'Merry Christmas'?"
"Yes. I have thought seriously about 'Happy Christmas'," I stated confidently.
Bill was obviously flustered. "That's not politically correct. I would think the real Santa, if there were one, would not want to offend anyone."
"Bill, Santa does not want to offend anyone. But Santa celebrates Christmas... not a generic holiday. Santa respects your beliefs... I request you respect mine."
Bill let out an arrogant huff, spun on one foot, and marched off towards the food court. I continued on down the corridor toward the line of kids that were now awaiting me.
I get this every year. And quite candidly, I am growing tired of it. I celebrate Christmas. CHRISTmas. Not a generic, secular holiday. As I told Bill, I respect that others may celebrate different holidays. I don't get upset if someone tells me Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa or Happy Diwali. I don't celebrate those holidays because they don't fit in my religious belief system but I am not offended because someone else does. Tolerance is not about being anti-religious or secular... it is about truly experiencing, practicing, and protecting religious freedom. That means I have the right to celebrate Christmas. I put up a Christmas tree, not a Holiday tree. I send Christmas cards, not Holiday cards. I say "Merry Christmas", not "Happy Holidays"... ok, sometimes I say "Happy Holidays" but not because I feel forced to do so. I sing Christmas carols, not Holiday songs.
And to be clear, I may not agree with your beliefs, but I will be the first to stand up to protect your right to have your own religious beliefs. I expect the same from you in return.
So politically correct or not, you can expect to hear me saying "Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! Ho, Ho, Ho!" for many years to come.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
This weekend we awarded the rights to design and produce my Christmas Eve outfit to Nike. I was fitted for the suit on Saturday in Beaverton and by today I was trying on my new outfit. It is fantastic!
My suit from the past couple of years was good but I couldn't seem to keep my temperature regulated. As I changed climates, I would find myself either cold or uncomfortably warm. I never could seem to find just the right temperature. So my staff decided it was time to once again update my Christmas Eve suit. We conducted a pretty thorough initial search and then invited 5 different vendors to make a request for proposal. The finalists came down to Nike and Under Armor. Under Armor had a great story to tell and some fantastic marketing. Everything sounded fantastic but in the final round where we actually sampled product, it was clear that their design & technology was sub-par. The Under Armor product was clearly inferior to Nike's. They were all hype. Their executives weren't the most pleasant to deal with either. Arrogant. And a quick background check, which in retrospect we should have conducted earlier in the selection process, showed that a few of them were on the naughty list. We just can't afford to be doing business with folks on the naughty list. That definitely would be a mistake... and certainly a PR faux pas.
But let me tell you about this suit. I mean... wow! The base layer is the new moisture wicking Nike Pro Combat compression shorts & long-sleeve shirt. I have color choices of "North Pole Ice" (which I call silver),"Arctic Snow" (white), or "Santa Red" (which is my traditional crimson red). The middle layer is a simple, light-weight dri-FIT fleece... upper only. It comes in the same color selection as the compression gear on the base layer. At the moment, I'm leaning toward wearing the "Ice" color for both the base and middle layer.
The outer layer is made from a unique light weight, breathable, moisture repelling material recently developed and pending patent by Nike's ACG division. The entire outer layer... pants and coat both combined weigh less than half a kilogram, despite having the thermal protection equivalent of -75 degrees Celsius This is a top secret material so I can't tell you much more about it. There is only one color selection... my traditional crimson red. I was emphatic that it visually appear like my traditional suit that I have been wearing since the 1950s even though it is far advanced technically beyond what I had back when I first started wearing this particular silhouette. It even has the white fur* trim around the collar and on the cuffs of the jacket and pants. *Note that it is not really fur... its a faux fur designed & manufactured specifically for me. It is so good, even some of the most knowledgeable furriers would not know its fake fur.
Oh, and did I mention that the jacket material is largely made from recycled plastic bottles? Well, it is. The folks at Nike utilize a technique that turns the plastic in your average water bottle into polyester. The polyester is then one of the components of this new material. I learned that they are using this material for many of their products. In fact, just one category of their apparel this next year will use 13 million plastic bottles. That's 13 million plastic bottles that will not be going to the landfill.
They supplied the boots as well. The boots, in traditional black, were designed and manufactured by the team at Cole Haan and it features Nike Air. Extremely comfortable and warm.
The folks at Nike, as did the Under Armor designers, originally wanted me to radically over-haul the suit visually. They wanted to take advantage of my athletic build... ok, maybe that's exaggerating a bit... but they did want to create a sleeker, more fitted, more modern image. While some of my staff agreed with that approach, I just didn't feel it was time to change the look. Maybe in 2050 but not before then. I think, particularly given the current state of affairs in the world, that people want and need some steadfast traditions. The team at Nike heard that. That's another reason I picked Nike. The UA team came back in the second round trying to push their more modern, more aggressive design, even trying to change the outer layer color scheme to a forest green... despite the fact I had made it clear I wanted to maintain tradition. Not Nike... after that first round, they presented everything in the traditional style (even removing the Swoosh... its not visible anywhere on the exterior of the outfit) but continued to introduce new functional features that addressed concerns & needs they had heard from me in the previous rounds. Clearly they were focused on meeting my needs. And they did. I am very happy with my new suit.
I am saving the suit though for Christmas Eve so don't expect to see it on me when you visit at the mall or catch me at some event this Christmas season. But don't try to stay up and see it either... cause if you are still awake on Christmas Eve when I come by, I may have to skip your house. You'll just have to wait and see the pictures in the Nike Press Release.
Ok... its time for me to rush off to dinner with Mrs. Claus before my next staff meeting. I hope you had a great weekend. Not long to go now until Christmas!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
As I do every weekend during the Holiday season, I spent most of the day so far visiting children in malls, shopping centers, town squares, etc. I love it. But I think I saw more kids with runny noses and coughs than normal. And at least a dozen kids sneezed and didn't cover it while sitting on my lap. Parents - I highly encourage you to keep your kids at home if they are showing symptoms of being sick. I want to see them but its not worth getting other kids sick.
And maybe its just psychosomatic but I have a headache now. Just a dull, constant headache. And my throat is a little sore. The elf medical team flew in during my last break to run some test. I don't have a fever and all the blood screens looked normal so they sent me back out. Hence the reason I think its psychosomatic. Nevertheless, I wish I had gotten the swine flu vaccination this year. Mrs. Claus and my staff tried to talk me into it but I didn't listen. I think I'll stop by the 24 hour medical clinic and get the shot when I go back to the North Pole later tonight.
Ok... break is over. Time to get back to the kids here at the mall. Enjoy your weekend. And Merry Christmas everyone!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I am very pleased to announce a new contest unlike any we have conducted before. This Christmas you can win a sleigh ride with me and Rudolph. All you have to do is a good deed... well, and write about it.
Here is what you do: Do a good deed. It can be anything. Take that homeless gentlemen on the corner out to breakfast. Donate coats to a local school to be handed out to needy children. Deliver meals to shut-ins. Open a door for someone. Anything. And then post it in the comments below.
My senior team and I will select the "best" good deed post and the winner will get a round trip sleigh ride with me to the North Pole Village from their primary residence on December 22nd. And Rudolph will be pulling the sleigh.
Its a once in a lifetime opportunity... so don't hold back. Go out there and 'do good'.
There is no limit to the number of good deeds you can submit but please only include one good deed per post. The more good you do, the better chance you have of winning.
And remember... I know if you have been naughty or nice. So don't post it if you didn't do it. Otherwise, you'll find yourself on the naughty list for the next decade.
Stay tuned to this blog for the winner to be announced soon.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I have been reading letters from around the world. I've also been skimming some of the "open letters" posted to me on the internet and in newspapers around the world. I love reading all of the kind notes and innocent requests this time of year. If those letters don't put you in the Christmas Spirit, I don't know what will.
I have also started to make mall appearances. And a few snotty nosed kids with attitudes, screaming & terrified toddlers, dirty diapered infants, and adults lamely trying to be funny by sitting on Santa's lap aside, the mall interaction is also largely a lot of fun. And every so often, in one of those interactions with child, I see a little Christmas magic. I see the lights go on in their eyes and I know they leave a different kid... one that will believe in Santa forever. The vast majority of the time, I leave the mall in much better Christmas Spirits than before I arrived. It is this that gives me the energy to get through the day.
Nevertheless, there are always a few requests that I just can not fill or are absurdly insane. "What?!" you may ask incredulously. But let me remind you that I am not supernatural. I have limits just like everyone else. So I want to take this opportunity to set some expectations.
First, I simply can not fill requests for husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. The Legal department here at North Pole Inc. has been very clear that fulfilling any such requests could be construed as an act in violation of International Human Trafficking laws. The risk of such a perception is too great and far outweighs any benefits that could be gained. We can, however, recommend a few good match-making sites upon request.
We also have a number of requests for exorbitant gifts. More often than not, the folks that make those requests are on the "Naughty" list. But for those that are on the "Nice" list, we do have a few rules. We do not deliver gifts over US$25,000 in value unless there is a special exemption granted by our independent auditors. Granting requests over US$25,000 usually requires a pretty extensive background check and involves someone with a life-long tenure on the "Nice" list. Gifts between US$1,000 and US$24,999 also require a minimum of 2 consecutive years on the "Nice" list.
There there are the requests for visiting with me or the reindeer on Christmas Eve. There are so many children that want me to wake them up so they can visit. I would love nothing more than to be able to do that but we are on such a tight schedule, its just not possible. And even if I had the time, I don't think I would risk it. In the early days, when I didn't have so many houses to visit, I would occasionally honor a request to visit and introduce the reindeer. Inevitably though, someone's dog or cat would go into "attack mode" as soon as the reindeer came in the house. It's understandable.... its a natural behaviour for the dog. But the reindeer would get spooked. And on occasion, I'd have a mess to clean-up before I left. Good thing I keep a "pooper-scooper" in the sleigh. Its just not worth all the stained carpets even if I could keep schedule. Now if you really, really want to visit with me and the reindeer, you will have a chance... I will tell you more about it on Thursday's post when I announce a contest to win a sleigh ride with Rudolph.
Speaking of animals... Live animals are another controversial issue. We debate our ability to deliver live animals every year. Each year we re-visit various governmental policies on the import/export of live animals. Inevitably, the topic leads to a heated debate over whether or not we should even be in the business of fulfilling Christmas wishes for live animals. We keep the option open every year... working with the UN and individual nations to negotiate special considerations for our Christmas delivery of live animals... however, more years than not, we have chosen to not fulfill Christmas requests for live animals. As you can imagine, it is a passionate debate with more than one facet to the sides that are taken. While we all feel strongly about making the kids happy, there are some that believe that should trump all other considerations. There is a camp, represented by Jolly, our Asia-Pacific GM and former VP of Marketing, that believes that the risk of the animals falling sick and/or passing away shortly after delivery only serves to hurt our brand. There is yet another camp, predictably led by Ollie, our GM for Europe & Middle East (former VP of Logistics), that simply believes the live animal logistics are so complex - not to mention expensive - that it jeopardizes our ability to fulfill our commitments on other deliveries. Ollie definitely has a point... almost 60% of the qualifying "nice" list kids placed live animal requests of some type last year. And the requests are for a wide range of animals that require vastly different types of care. Of the ones that asked for live animals last year, 36% wanted a horse or pony. 29% wanted a dog. 9% wanted a snake. 12% wanted a cat. 2% wanted a bird of some type. 6% wanted to keep one of the reindeer. The remaining 6% wanted some other type of animal ranging from goldfish to crocidiles. Of course, even in the years when we decide to tackle the challenge of delivering live animals and we clear all of the various governmental hurdles, we still require written parental consent. And we have always denied requests for animals that posed a risk such as poisonous snakes or large predatory animals. In short, even in the best case years, it remains very unlikely a child will receive a live animal. In 2009, we are going to follow the same practices & policies as last year: allowing live animals where it is legal and where we have written parental consent. Given those considerations, Sprite, head of Procurement, believes we'll deliver approximately 25,000 small animals and 5,100 large animals worldwide this year, up slightly from last year. It's a small number as far as a percentage but we are extremely limited by the sheer number of parents that refuse to grant permission.
And finally, there is the issue of "Open Letters" posted on the internet in places such as MySpace and Facebook as well as in the media. Despite the help of my very capable friends at Google, I can not guarantee that I will see your open letter. The North Pole Inc. I.T. team crawls sites during this time of year for Open Letters and produces a summary of links for me. But even with that help, our research indicates that there is still a high likelihood of your open letter being missed. So your best bet is to send me a direct correspondence. Of course, I have noticed that most people send me direct correspondence via emails or handwritten letter for their requests but then use the open letter format to file complaints. Still, I try to read and respond to them all regardless of the spirit.
I hope this has helped to set a few expectations for this upcoming Christmas Eve. I also hope you are not too disappointed. Santa definitely wants to spread Joy throughout the world this Christmas season, so if these restrictions create an issue for you, let's talk. I'm sure there are some very creative ways you can make this your best Christmas ever... And it probably starts with trying to make this the best Christmas ever for someone else!
Sunday, December 06, 2009
I am typing up this post as I lean back in my big leather recliner and put my feet up for the first time since Thursday evening. It's really quite nice. I have my laptop with me and I'm sitting in my private office/den at the house. Mrs. Claus has already gone to bed but she knew I would need a little relaxation at the end of this weekend so she had a fire built in the fireplace for me and a steaming mug of hot chocolate waiting next to my recliner. All the lights are off but I have the light of the fire, the tv is on across the room though on mute, and the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree (did I mention before that we have a Christmas tree in every room?). I took just a few minutes to sit and reflect before I powered up the laptop but found myself starting to doze off... so I powered it up and here I sit typing my note to all of you. I'm sure when I'm done, I'll fall asleep right here in the recliner, wake up a couple of hours later, and then stumble to bed where I'll sleep next to Mrs. Claus for an hour or so before the alarm goes off.
Speaking of, I don't get much sleep at all during this time of year. Mondays are the closest thing I have to a day off. I can really sleep in on Mondays, which means I get almost 4 hours of sleep on Sunday nights. But the truth is... I rarely feel tired. Yes... I know my body is physically exhausted but I just get so much energy from the Christmas season that I just keep going, and going, and going... until December 26th. Then I truly crash for a few days.
Anyway... you probably want to hear about my weekend. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to tell. It was fairly typical with a number of tree lightings and parade appearances on Friday night. Saturday & Sunday both, I bounced around Asia, Europe, and North America making a number of appearances. I got in a really good run at Old Trafford in Manchester on Sunday... it was Manchester United's Santa Run. That was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed getting to run with and talk to many of you.
The most significant thing I think about the weekend was that something went wrong with our telecommunications network. I am not sure of all the details but I know Melody and her team worked on it non-stop all weekeend. They finally resolved it late this evening NPT. While we were experiencing the issue, neither my iPhone or my Blackberry worked. As a result though, I was "twitter-less". I apologize for those of you following me on Twitter but I just couldn't get to a place to login and tweet.
The other thing I would share is that I met with the manufacturers of the Zhu Zhu Pets to discuss an order increase. Our demand planning team way under-estimated the popularity of the Zhu Zhu pets. We currently have way more Zhu Zhu Pets requested than we have in inventory. The good news is that they are going to do everything possible to increase our order; the bad news is that we will likely still fall short. For those of you making requests via letter, I encourage you to give me an alternate selection in case I don't have enough Zhu Zhu pets to go around. We will be filling the requests on a first-come, first-served basis.
Well... my mug is empty and I'm starting to doze even as I type. I am going to shut down the laptop and drift off to a nice, peaceful slumber. Good night, all.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Do you have a burning question for me? If so, please enter it in the comments below. I will answer some of the tougher and more interesting questions in a blog post later this month
In the meantime, I highly encourage you to read the questions and answers from last year by clicking here.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
It's finally December 1st! And do you know why that's important? It's not because we survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday... which we did. More on that later. Rather, it's because its the day we decorate the North Pole Village for Christmas. I know... most of you just assume that the North Pole is decorated for Christmas 24x7, 365 days a year. But that's not the case. We put up decorations on December 1st and take them down the day after New Years Day. Now don't misunderstand - it's definitely, er... Christmas-y... all the time here at the North Pole Village. But when we decorate, we really decorate. There are literally millions of lights, hundreds of Christmas trees (all live and in planters), and hundreds of kilometers of garland. The highlight though is the North Pole Village Christmas Tree. The annual Christmas Tree lighting is always a grand event that attracts everyone at the North Pole... not to mention a number of celebrities that fly in each year for the lighting. Mrs. Claus officially lights the tree. It's her show. And I simply get to enjoy it. Its a very nice change to sit back, listen to the carolers sing, drink hot chocolate, listen to Mrs. Claus' inspirational speech, and watch as the tree lights up the sky for miles & miles around as she flips the switch. And as always, Mrs. Claus lit the tree tonight. What fun! The entire village is decked out in full Christmas glory. You should see the lights glimmering under the fresh layer of snow we got earlier this evening with stars blinking overhead. You really should come on up and check it out! We'd love to have you visit.
Anyway... I'm getting tired and need to go to bed soon but I promised earlier in the post to tell you about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I actually posted more information about Black Friday at the end of day on the 27th of November. Cyber Monday was equally, if not more, impressive. We recieved literally tens of thousands of hits per second on the North Pole Website. It was all our I.T. people could do to keep the systems up and running... but they did it. I can tell you that I received a record amount of email too as everyone saw my contact info on the website. What a day!
Ok... I am really getting exhausted. It's bed time for Santa. Good night, all!