12/23/05 — Santa shares secrets before his midnight ride

View Archive

Santa shares secrets before his midnight ride

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 23, 2005 1:46 PM

I approached the office a couple of days before Christmas. Looking down at my shoes, I put the key in the door -- a steaming cup of hot chocolate in the other hand.

As I pushed the door open, a cold breeze took my breath.

I looked around for a sign this wasn't just a dream, and noticed a glow coming from my desk area. I approached it, hoping it would explain why no one was in sight and why there was snow falling from the ceiling.

A golden envelope sat on my desk, sprinkled with white snow and radiating light. I opened it and found a dream inside.

The letter read,

"Mr. Kenneth Fine has been a very good boy this year. In fact, he has been so wonderfully well-behaved, he has earned an honor no man, woman or child ever has. Please find the green phone we have placed on your desk and press the blinking red button. Ho, ho, ho."

The letter was signed "S.C."

The green phone looked like a toy. It was shaped like a reindeer and had a blinking red button where the nose should be -- and it had antlers.

Could this really be happening? Was I about to use a Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer speaker phone? And was "S.C." Santa Claus?

I took a deep breath and pushed the button.

There was no ringing, only "ho, ho, ho." After a few seconds, it stopped.

"North Pole, this is Jolly," a high-pitched, squeaky voice answered. "How may I direct your call?"

I went straight for the boss, knowing that an exclusive interview with the "man in red" might just be the break I needed.

Once Jolly learned I was calling from Goldsboro, he put me right through.

"Winter Wonderland" blared over the line. I was clearly on hold.

Just then, the music stopped.

"Mr. Fine," inquired the man. "I normally don't give interviews, but you are at the top of my "nice" list," he said. "Just don't use my words out of context. Ho, ho, ho."

It was Santa Claus.

I knew I had been good, but an interview with the man himself seemed almost too good to be true. Besides, I asked for an iPod, not an interview.

But I went ahead anyway.

As we spoke, Santa revealed many things about the holiday season I never knew.

"You know, the North Pole is a whole lot like Goldsboro," he said. "Just imagine a dozen feet of snow covering everything and replace City Hall with my house. And where Berkeley Mall would be, that's the playground for our young elves."

Santa began laughing. He seemed to joke around a lot.

"Ho, ho, ho, ho," he continued. "Excuse me. Actually, the North Pole estate is quite large, maybe a bit bigger than all of Wayne County. There's a large factory where we make our toys, about 10 miles long."

I continued my interview. Some children wonder how Santa fits down the chimney after all those cookies, I asked.

"Well, here's the secret," he said. "I have a personal trainer. His name is Hanz, an elf who has been with us for years. He wakes me up with a bullhorn every morning, and we start an intense workout."

He began laughing again.

"Ho, ho, ho, ho. Maybe that's why Mrs. Claus sleeps with earplugs in."

Santa added that magic dust also helps him slip down the chimneys as he makes his Christmas deliveries.

I knew Santa's time was short, Christmas Eve was approaching fast, so I flipped around my question list, looking for some of the most-pressing issues.

Well, many children seem to be interested in the reindeer. What kind of food they eat, where they sleep and why Rudolph's nose is red and shiny. I fired away, knowing I had to continue to think quickly.

"Reindeer love candy apples and carrot cake," Santa replied. "The sugar keeps them going when it's time to deliver the presents. Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho. And they sleep in beds, just like you and me.

"And as for Rudolph, we designed a highly classified toy for his nose, a red Christmas light that never goes out," he said. "You know what they say -- if one goes out, they all go out."

Santa let me know that time was running short and that he was desperately needed in the toy factory.

And so, I asked a few more questions I thought our readers might want to know -- particularly the secrets of the elves and how one man and numerous reindeer can make it around the world in one night.

"The elves look like little people, but with pointy ears and sparkling eyes." he said. "And I'll tell you a secret. They always have rosy red cheeks because they eat lots of candy canes. That makes for a nice red glow, ho, ho, ho. And as for your other question, let's just say a sleigh pulled by a gang of flying reindeer is much faster than any plane, train or rocket ship you may have read about. We could probably deliver to a whole other Earth, if there was one."

After that, the snow disappeared, as did the red phone. I was back at work with only a blinking Christmas tree to accompany me. I heard a faint, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night," in the background as I prepared to turn my notes into a holiday story.

And so, your older brother and sister might tell you there's no such man as Santa Claus, that the North Pole is make-believe and that flying reindeer aren't real.

Next time they say those things, remind them that Christmas dreams are real in your heart.

If you keep believing, who knows -- maybe one day you'll find a Rudolph speaker phone on your desk.