By Ned Cantwell
Some years back this writer landed an exclusive interview with Santa Claus and wrote the following report that was, surprisingly, snubbed by CNN but published elsewhere.
Ned Cantwell: So, Santa, if you had to do it over again, would you change anything?
Santa Claus: Heavens, yes. This whole fat-guy-at-the-North-Pole image was a huge error. Eons ago, when the Christmas thing was getting started, it was mostly a religious holiday. But they needed a secular icon to sell toys and they came up with me.
I had it pretty well figured out. I would have a body along the lines of Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of those guys who gets all the chicks, and I’d headquarter in Florida.
SC: Well, sure. I mean, it’s a no-brainer, right? Someone says, hey, you want to winter in Bismark or Florida, you head for West Palm, right? Lots of money. B-I-I-I-G money! You could run yourself one heck of a toy shop down there.
NC: So what happened?
SC: It wasn’t to be. Mama, that’s Mrs. Claus to you, she decides to bring in this hotshot marketing expert from New York. I’ll never forget the guy, Kris Jingle. Flashy fellow, $900 suit. Talked a mile a minute. Sounded smart, but history would show he certainly wasn’t the shiniest ornament on the Christmas tree.
So, this Jingle guy decides we will live in total isolation at the North Pole with no one for company but disgusting little elves. No cable, no nothin’. And I would be this fat guy who eats nothing but cookies and milk. Yeah, Kris, way to go, pal.
NC: You are not a happy camper?
SC: Well, look at me. Here it is, 2003. Thin is in, and I’m so fat I can’t walk a block without huffing and puffing. My cholesterol level is off the chart and Mama Claus is on my case every day about my belly. Things aren’t so ho-ho-ho around here, I’ll tell you.
NC: Geez, Santa, that’s a sad story. Anything else you would change?
SC: Rudolph. Big mistake. I figured from the get go I needed reindeer. Temperamental beasts, and they smell to high heaven in mid-July, but they get the job done.
Then, Kris Jingle, who, as I indicated, was not the brightest luminary on the courthouse lawn, he insists that if we use reindeer we need to have one with a shiny nose so he can lead the pack.
Now, you may not know much about reindeer, but let me tell you they have massive egos. Why do you think one of them is called Prancer? So, now, all the reindeer are slouching around in a big funk all the time because Rudolph gets all the publicity.
NC: That’s interesting, Santa. Do you have any feelings about how the world celebrates Christmas?
SC: It’s gotten w-a-a-y out of hand. Times were simple back when this started. I was just a sideline symbol, not the reason for the season, as they say. Kids used to line up to celebrate Jesus Christ. Now, they line up to see me at the shopping mall.
NC: Santa, you are not thinking about quitting, are you?
SC: Can’t. Who’s going to hire an old fat guy?
Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. He welcomes response at: