Wow! You all gave me some tough and very interesting questions. I don't have time to answer them all in one sitting, but I'll take a stab at some of them now...
Q. How do you deliver all those toys around the world in one night?
A. 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. Do you ever post any pictures? Can I get a picture of every one at the North Pole?
A. You know, I never have posted any pictures. Your questions made me start to think about it and I have decided that I will start posting pictures next year. The primary reason I haven't posted pictures is simply that I'm a blogging novice... even after doing this blog for my fourth year. I haven't taken the time to learn how to upload them. But Mrs. Claus has told me she would show me how if I want to start doing that. So look for pictures starting some time mid-next year!
Q. I have trouble deciding what to get my own niece and nephew for Christmas, how on earth do you decide what each child around the world should have for Christmas?!?
A. It can be a challenge at times; however, I usually have the benefit of a request directly from the child. With email, internet, and all the other various medium available to kids, they find a way to get their requests to me more often than not, even if they don't visit me at a mall. And when I don't hear from a child, we actually have quite a bit of consumer information available about each child. We have a full team of elves dedicated to gathering "consumer intelligence"... they crawl websites, conduct survelliance, poll parents & friends, and use a variety of highly confidential intelligence gathering techniues to compile a complete set of information on each child. If can not identify a specific request, we use very sophisticated consumer analytics against all of that data to match the best gifts with each child. We find it very effective. Unfortunately, I can't give you access to it. I'd suggest you resort to asking the parents....
Q. How do you REALLY know if we have been good or bad - naughty or nice? Does my mom have your number?
A. Trust me... you know. And yes, your mom does know how to get a hold of me if there is something to report. To determine the "nice list", there is a fairly complex algorithm that we apply, but, it really just boils down to the basics here: Do you treat others as you would treat yourself? Do you obey and honor your parents? Said differently, we apply the basic tenets and values of Judeo-Christian tradition.
Q. This might be too personal a question, but are you on the naughty or nice list this year?
A. Technically, since its my list, I'm not on either one. But I do think I'd be on the nice list. Now don't get me wrong.... even ol' Santa (ugh... I don't like talking about myself in the third person...) is not perfect. I am as human and flawed as anyone. None of us are perfect. That is the exact reason why the true meaning of Christmas is so important. If we were perfect, we wouldn't have needed the birth of Christ.
Q. What kinds of animals do you and Mrs. Claus have other than the reindeer? Any cats or dogs?
Mrs. Claus & I have several animals around. In addition to traditional livestock (i.e. cows, pigs, and chickens) that we maintain at our farm just outside the Village, we do have a horse (named Trigger), dog (a German Shepherd named Joe), and cat (named Susie). I love that dog. He follows me all around the North Pole Village and often joins me on my runs. Mrs. Claus probably prefers the cat. A few years back, Mrs. Claus' brother talked us into raising Alpacas. We bought 12 but that didn't go so well. We ended up giving them away to a couple in Idaho.
Q. There are so many store "Santas" and the like around what should I tell the children on who they are?
A. More times than you might think, that's actually me! I get around to more stores & malls that you might imagine. I leverage North Pole Time (see above) and the speed of the reindeer to make as many stops as I can. But you are correct... it is not always me, the real Santa. So when you see someone that is clearly not me, there is a very good chance that they are one of the contractors we have hired as part of our Intelligence Agency. It is one of the many ways that we gather information on what children want for Christmas. Of course, there are always just average people that want to dress up like me... and if that helps put themselves and other people in the Christmas spirit, then its just fine by me.
Oh yes... LaTrell, I do still plan to stop at your house. Jennifer, I am the REAL Santa and not just a helper. Merry Christmas to both of you!More Q&A responses to come soon. Stay tuned!