Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Papai Noel, Father Christmas… he goes by many names. And when humanity reached out to the stars, with a little bit of magic, Santa came along too.
This week, I’m very pleased to take a short break from the usual interviews of writers, romantics, and science-minded people to share with you the Jolly Old Elf’s explanation of how Santa made his way to the stars.
1. Is there a scientific explanation for the magic that seems to surround you?
I’d like to say yes; I’d like to say that any level of science sufficiently advanced compared to what one is familiar with will seem like magic, but the simple truth is… no. It is magic, pure and simple.
2. How long have you been doing this?
Me personally? I’ve only worn the mantle for about thirty years now. But my dad was the Santa for about ninety years before he retired. Of course, our family has been doing this for centuries.
3. So you’re not immortal?
Oh, no. Long lived, certainly, but not immortal.
4. Will your son take over for you someday?
I have daughters. Yes, one of them might take over for me, or it might be one of my nieces or nephews. It stays in the family, but “family” could mean a more distant relative as well.
5. Has there ever been a female Santa?
Oh, there are at least three right now! One of them just goes along with her planet’s idea that Santa Claus is a man, but the other two have some very nice pictures that represent what they really look like.
6. So every planet has their own Santa?
Basically, yes. There are a few solar systems that share one Santa for all the inhabited planets.
7. How does this work? Does the new Santa just hitch a ride along with the original colonists when they embark to a new world?
That has been known to happen! But we usually rely on magic. After all, there’s a lot that has to be set up in Santa’s Workshop. Trying to smuggle all that stuff on board a colonial starship would be difficult at best.
8. When did the job of Santa grow to be too big for one jolly old elf?
In the late twentieth century, it wasn’t too big a deal for Santa’s sleigh to swing by the space station and drop off presents. But in the twenty-first century, when the first moon base was established, and then humanity began to reach farther into space, my ancestors decided they needed to revamp the whole system.
9. Was that a huge shake-up for the family?
Oh yes. As you can imagine, we’re a very close knit family. So sending one son out to set up a completely autonomous workshop on another planet was devastating.
10. Are all the workshops autonomous?
They’re independent, but we work together. Earth’s North Pole took on the task of coordinating all the newer workshops. So if one is short on a particular toy, others can help out.
11. So does that make Christmas Eve exponentially busier?
Actually, since all the inhabited planets have different orbits, and different length years, Christmas falls at different times. Most planets, like Kingdom Come, arbitrarily picked a date close to the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, and they carry on the traditions they enjoyed on Earth. However there are some deep space stations and, of course, starships, which celebrate the holiday at the same time as Earth.
12. How does that work? With the spacestations and starships, I mean.
That’s by far the most difficult part of the job. My cousin George is the Santa for outer space. Most of the time he lives at the North Pole on Earth, but then he takes his team on their work-ship, and they have a rather complicated plan they follow to make sure they reach everybody.
13. Even the ships in FTL?
Yup. Even the ships that are already going faster than light! That’s when we rely heavily on magic.
14. How is being Santa for Kingdom Come different from being Santa for another planet?
Of course, I only know what it’s like to be Santa on Kingdom Come. But before I took over from my father, I spent some time visiting the other Santas and even lending a hand on the big night. We have it pretty easy here, as it’s a fairly isolated planet with a relatively small population. And that population is only spread over half the planet; we don’t even have to worry about visiting the uninhabited wilderness.
15. What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love the lights. Some people really go out of their way to decorate for the season, and it really makes my job a lot more fun to see all the fantastic displays.
16. Which duchy has the best Christmas display?
Oh, hands down that would be Skytower. You can’t compete with a structure that reaches all the way to the stratosphere! And the space elevator even has special lights for the season. That’s a real treat to see from the sleigh.
17. Besides Skytower, do you have any other favorites?
Several! There’s a duchy out east that does an entire nativity with hot air balloons. And up in the mountains in the north, there’s a Hanukkah menorah where each candle is a huge tower. It’s just spectacular! And there’s a little town on the western edge of Duchy Tailortrain where almost every single resident decorates their homes and yards with colorful lights. It’s really nice to see that kind of community effort.
18. What do you do in the off season?
Contrary to popular belief, we do get a break! Personally, I love snorkeling. But I do love the snow, and sometimes during the summer we’ll actually take a trip down to the southern hemisphere just to go skiing.
19. Do you ever worry about being recognized?
Oh, it happens now and then. But I try to keep a sense of humor about it. Most people just say “Ha ha, you look just like Santa Claus!” and I just say “Yeah, I get that a lot!”
20. Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
I’m not sure anymore. But the one thing I do know is, they were both on the naughty list that year!
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