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Santa Speaks Out


PART II

RICHARD: I've seen you go through all sorts of innovations through the years, Santa, but none of them to date has had a more profound influence on your various aspects than the Internet. So what I'd like to know is, how exactly did you end up deciding to join the race for cyberspace?

SANTA: Well, Richard, I think it all started with a fellow named Jeff Guide. He had an idea about how the World Wide Web could be used if one could percieve of it as a force for good. So Jeff created 2 websites: one dealing with Christmas; the other, with weather. Now, I'm not exactly sure what became of the weather page, but the Christmas page took off like a shot, I can tell you that certainly.

RICHARD: Oh. yeah, Today, that site --- SantaLand.com --- is the Web's oldest Santa-related homepage. In 2001, the plug was almost pulled on it when Jeff and his original Internet Service Provider couldn't agree on how to continue maintaining the place.

SANTA: My goodness! And to think we almost lost that wonderful place! I'm sure that Jeff succeeded in working things out....

RICHARD: He did, and now all is back to normal at SantaLand.com. I, frankly, hope it stays that way.

SANTA: As do I, Richard. The Web has proven to be a fascinating source of material, both good and bad, and humorous, too, about yours truly and all that I've done over the aeons.

RICHARD: Any personal favorites among the various websites devoted to you (present company included as well, of course)?

SANTA: Well, I hate to admit it, but those sites out of Finnish Lapland, particularly those from its capital Rovaniemi, are the coolest Santa-related websites thus far. I especially enjoy their references to Korvatunturi, which means 'Ear Fell' in Finnish.

RICHARD: Oh yeah, Rovaniemi's a swingin' town. Icy, but shagadelic nonetheless. Where else can you have Santa Claus host his very own golf tournament?

SANTA: Oh indeed! By the way, did the Golf Channel ever get around to covering that one?

RICHARD: I'm not sure. I don't really follow golf. Anyway, of all the Santa websites from Finland, which one in your opinion stands out as the ultimate nadir of cool?

SANTA: Well, hands down, I'd say that honor belongs to Santatelevision.com. Those delightful short films they make for me are quite a hoot, especially their Elf Adventures. In 2000, they shot a delightful little miniseries about one of my elves, a fellow named Rufus.....

RICHARD: Yeah, I remember those. That was the 7-part one where Rufus had to do these unique tests to earn his elf status. Friendliness, loyalty and kindness were the three elf principles that Rufus had to learn.

SANTA: Yes indeed! In fact, Rufus is still working with us today, and is one of the happiest elves on our whole team!

RICHARD: Beautiful! Now, Santa, I sort of need to let the real world interfere with our interview. When I say that, I mean that there have been several incidents involving you that in some cases haven't exactly been rosy.

SANTA: Ah, yes. It appears that the real world has, in more than a few cases, let me down a little bit. I understand that there's a school in Australia whose headmaster has banned my presence there because he fears a backlash against me from certain Muslim and other ethnic groups. There are many Australians, the Prime Minister among them, who aren't exactly amused by this. I certainly don't blame them. In Austria, I've been banned as well, mostly because of my American influences. And, back in the States themselves, there was the curious case of one of my impersonators who was arrested for killing his own daughter over a Christmas display!

RICHARD: One might consider these events 'isolated examples,' but, unfortunately, they weren't. Which is why I have to ask for your reaction to all these bannings and whatnot.

SANTA: Well, Richard, the best response I can give to that is to remind everyone why I do this job every year: Christmas is not something to debate over. Really, it never was to begin with. I think most people tend to forget that Christmas exists as something far more important and more significant than simply the day that Santa Claus delivers his presents. Esquire Magazine once had Bill Murray interview me (yes, THE Saturday Night Live Bill Murray, mind you!), and what he said toward the end of that movie Scrooged still speaks more volumes than I ever could: "For a couple of hours outta the whole year," he said, "we ARE the people we hoped we always would be -- we act nicer, we act kinder, we sing a little more..." It was one of Bill's finest moments as an actor-comedian, and I will always love him for it.

Then again, I'm used by now to the idea that I'm capable of shattering one or two religious beliefs. I'm probably shattering some of those beliefs even now, as I talk to you. Despite this, I think we need to remember that Christmas exists to remind everybody of just how much love the human race is truly capable of. I only stand as a symbol of all the virtues and values inherent in a certain Carpenter who was born in a village named Bethlehem. I still shed a tear or two every time I see those pictures of me kneeling in prayer before the Christ Child. Those pictures constantly remind me that the blood of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, still flows within this old busybody of a Toymaker.....

RICHARD: Thank God that's so!

SANTA: Amen!

RICHARD: So here you are: Santa Claus, Bringer of Gifts, Keeper of Childhood Dreams and Wishes, on the verge of yet another sleigh ride in December 2014. Two words: what's next?

SANTA: I see you're interested in my future. Like so many things, the future is never set --- not even for me. The destiny of all is in the mind of he who controls the clock, I always say (though I do admit that I never said that in the movie); and I hardly think my public will lose their faith in me. I just hope I don't lose my faith in them!

RICHARD: Especially the children?

SANTA: Duh! Children are Mankind's --- and Santa Claus' --- future! Their every decision, good and bad (hopefully and mostly the former), will literally shape the heritage of everyone on this planet. That's why I must always maintain constant vigilance of it as the 21st Century unfolds.

RICHARD: Well, regardless of whether or not the future is good or bad for Santa, KringleQuest.com 3.0 --- and for that matter, every single Santa Claus website on Earth --- will continue to monitor your every move.

SANTA: I'm so pleased you said that, Richard, and here's why. More and more, we tend to take imagination for granted. We can't afford to do so again. Others may not recognize your efforts, Richard Washington, but it does my heart good knowing that you have chosen to number yourself among the many standard-bearers for the cause.

RICHARD: Well, as you know, Santa, I have to. Imagination's all I've got left in this world.

SANTA: Perhaps. But as long as you use your imagination wisely, the greater chance you'll have of leaving this world better than you found it. And in that respect, my friend, I wish you good luck.

RICHARD: Thank you, Santa. Any closing comments?

SANTA: Well, I'm no preacher. Not anymore in at least one sense, anyway. But let me come right out and say it, because it disturbs me so: Stop making war. I've lived through some of the most horrifying conflicts Mankind will ever know, and I've shaken my head in sorrow each time a life has been needlessly lost --- never more so, of course, than on September 11th, 2001. Even we here at the Top of the World were affected by the events of that dark, horrible day. Since then, I have grown more and more dedicated to giving hope to every man, woman and child on the Planet. For, after all, at the end of the day, isn't the true measure of Christmas at the heart of the power of Hope? It is, quite simply, something worth dwelling upon and remembering. I hope everyone out there can remember it as well.

RICHARD: Yeah. Me too. Santa Claus, it has been a pleasure to have been able to talk with you; and I know that I take from this interview the absolute memories of a lifetime!

SANTA: And thank you, Richard, dear friend and fellow believer. You take something else from this interview: my personal approval of your website. You and your team of KringleQuesters have remained firmly and happily on me case these nearly 20 years; I continue each year to be assured that you won't let me down one bit!

RICHARD: No way.

SANTA: Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas to all, and to all --- well, you know the rest.

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