SANTA CLAUS AND Mrs. Santa sit with Cadence Korstanje, 3, of Crystal Lake, Ill.		   		             Hannah Tetzlaff photo
SANTA CLAUS AND Mrs. Santa sit with Cadence Korstanje, 3, of Crystal Lake, Ill. Hannah Tetzlaff photo

     ’TIS THIS TIME OF YEAR that Santa Claus gets unusually busy.

     Though St. Nick knows a thing or two about delivering packages — he’s carried a lot of parcels over the years, of course — even he could get a bit overwhelmed as Christmas approaches.

     So I’ll count  myself lucky that between talking to kids and enjoying a cookie or two (and even playing the tuba — rumor has it he’s great with the horn) Santa found a few minutes for me to answer a few questions — and toss in one joke for good measure.

* * * * *
     Q: How much fun is it to be known as the Jolly Ol’ Elf to children year after year?

     A: I guess that I get more excited than the children. Every fall I start getting glances from area children in the stores especially if I am wearing a red shirt. Some little ones will even approach me and whisper, “Are you Santa?” and I would reply, “Some children think I am. Do you think I am?” After a smile and nod from them I would just grin and wink back.

     Q: As you prepare for Christmas, how many excited children do you speak to? How do you find the time?

     A: Mrs. Claus and I see more and more children each year. Last year’s total was just under 2,000. We visit children up and down the Fox Valley. This year, by Dec. 24, we will reach close to an estimated 3,200. We have never ended an arranged visit on time — usually going an extra hour. We have never left until every child has spoken to us.

     Q: What’s your favorite moment from chatting with so many children?

     A: Several years ago, while visiting at Websters’ Marketplace, a 4-year-old little boy asked for just two things: something nice for his Mom and for himself — a Bible. I was shocked! They both received their wishes.

     Q: Do little children ever tell you sad stories as well? How do you respond?

A: I have heard many sad tales over the years. There are two that stick in my mind. Each wish involved their daddies not having a job and their families soon being evicted. That rips at my heart. I promised that Santa would try to help. After making phone calls to Ripon Printers in both cases, I am happy to say that to my knowledge both dads are still working there. In both stories, the dads had to call Santa (me) back after 90 days on the job, and reassure me things are better. ...

     To read the entire column, including what Santa tells children not to ask him for, see the Dec. 20, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.