CHILDREN STILL BENDING SANTA’S EAR

Advocate staff photo by DERICK HINGLE -- Santa Claus on Tuesday Dec. 17, 2012, at St. Phillip Nursery School in New Orleans, La..
Advocate staff photo by DERICK HINGLE -- Santa Claus on Tuesday Dec. 17, 2012, at St. Phillip Nursery School in New Orleans, La..

Hi, Santa. Where have you been? On Monday, I was at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church nursery school in Algiers. Last Thursday night, I appeared with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. I was also at the Monteleone Hotel’s holiday party on Saturday. That’s definitely a First World engagement.

Sometimes it seems kids today are too savvy for a guy in a sled with a magic bag of toys. What do you think? Well, they can get ahead of me a little bit. I was shocked to hear that Sony was not making the Walkman any more. Luckily, I’ve got some elves that stay in touch with popular culture more than I do.

So what are the popular requests this year? Things seem to be going more traditional. LEGOS are big. Girls are asking for dolls, especially those American Girl dolls. A lot of kids are asking for puppies. Of course, we have rules about that sort of thing.

What is the first thing a child in your lap usually wants to know? Where are the elves? Where’s Rudolph? And, are you real? I say that the elves are at the North Pole, getting ready for Christmas, and Rudolph is practicing for his big night. And yes, I’m real. I invite them to pull, gently, on my beard. And nobody ever yanks. They know there would be repercussions.

Do adults ever come up to chat with Santa? Adults quite often want to talk with me. At parties where there’s a bar, there’s more of them.

Besides wish lists, what are children telling you this year? Sometimes they talk about things that are bothering them. I was really kind of expecting some of the kids to ask about the incident in Connecticut. They did not. Last night at a party, before we got started, the host asked everyone to say a prayer, so the kids knew all about it, but they didn’t bring up the topic. I think it was something they just didn’t grasp.

What if they asked? What would you tell them? I would tell them that someone did a very bad thing, but I would reassure them that their family loves them, and their family and their school will do everything to keep them safe. That they should have faith, because the people who care about them will keep them safe.