An exclusive interview with Santa reveals his secrets (well, some) and what it takes to be the jolly old elf!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the office, the DiG-gers were busily adding the finishing touches to their holiday décor. To say we get excited about the ‘Big Man’ visiting is an understatement–we start early (Octoberearly) with the decking of our halls and the hanging of our stockings with care. It takes a lot of work to get ready for Santa to say the least, which begs the question: “How does Santa do it all?” To find out, we went straight to the source, Santa Claus himself. Here is what he had to say about his job as Santa and what it takes:

“Santa is universally loved and accepted, and being Santa, to me, is the biggest responsibility in the world. Santa has to take care of the whole world. He stands for hope and goodwill for everyone, and only sees the good in people.”

This particular Santa that we interviewed goes by the moniker “Santa Rick,” and believes so much in the idea of Santa that he created a school for… you guessed it… Santas.

According to Santa Rick, quite a bit goes into being Santa and getting ready for the big day. “You have to have the wisdom of an old toymaker who has been around for 200-400 years. You have to know how to dress, how to smile in pictures and how to respond to creative questions.”

Being the jolly old elf, Santa Rick explained, means being professionally trained and educated on everything from how to trim your beard, what to eat, how to act, where to go and what to wear.

Santa Rick, who by the way is Orthodox Jewish (like we said earlier, Santa is for everybody), was inspired to take on the Santa role year round and eventually start a school through a chance encounter with a child and his father at Home Depot.

“One of the practices of being Orthodox Jewish is for men to stop shaving their beard for a year after the loss of a parent. During my period of mourning my parents, who I lost within a few weeks apart, I found myself in the garden section of Home Depot where I noticed a young boy staring wide-eyed at my beard that had grown fluffy and white. This little boy was tugging on his father’s shirt trying to get him to notice me. I quickly caught on that this little boy thought I was Santa. So, I leaned down to him and said, ‘Shhhh….don’t tell anyone you saw Santa buying tools for his elves.’”

From this point on, “Rick” became “Santa Rick” year-round and was inspired and motivated to instill the values and knowledge that he had learned since 1968 when Santa Rick became Santa seasonally. Based in the Atlanta area, Santa Rick’s National Santa Agency & Northern Lights Santa Academy teaches hundreds of Santas each year all the ins and outs of being St. Nick. At his Santa school, which happens to be the second largest in the nation, his students learn how to trim their beard, what hair care products to use, how to smile in pictures and the importance of having an insurance policy.

“Santa is not rich, but he is not slovenly. He looks nice and is very professional. He can’t have pleather, only a leather belt and real boots will do. And white gloves are a must for the safety of Santa and the children,” said Santa Rick. “An untrained Santa can destroy a child’s belief in Santa. In order to be a good Santa, you can’t just play Santa, you have to be Santa.”

At the Northern Lights Santa Academy, aspiring Santas are able to learn all of the tricks of the trade from a diverse curriculum of customized courses, offering interactive learning experiences from 12-20 qualified instructors as well as continuing education opportunities.

“One of the aspects of our school that I am most proud of is our special needs workshop that took two years to develop. In addition to bringing in the parents of special needs children and the children themselves, we also partnered with a national organization to help us obtain authentic insights for this one-of-a-kind program.”

At his school, students learn that being Santa is not for the faint of heart. “You have to be non-judgmental and accepting, and find the good in everything and everyone. Santa has to love humanity and have a big heart. And it is really important that you aren’t political or controversial,” said Santa Rick.

“From hospitals to marriage proposals, you have to know your limits. Some Santas aren’t comfortable visiting children in hospitals and some don’t mind. Others can withstand cocktail parties with food and drinks, and others don’t want to chance food and drink being sloshed on their expensive suits. Santas are people and have strengths and weaknesses, which is why professional training is so important,” continued Santa Rick. “You will laugh and cry and come to realize that being Santa can be one of the most intimate relationships there is. And children are children, from 6 to 106, when they meet Santa.”

So, as you can tell it takes a lot of work and preparation to be Santa. And while Santa didn’t reveal all of his secrets in our interview, like how he makes it around the world in one night and how his elves make all those toys, he did give us a newfound respect for the important role of Santa and what it means to be the love and light for the world.

P.S. Santa did leave us with one tiny tip: his favorite cookie. He likes the round ones. According to Santa, there are no bad cookies. Happy holidays and Ho! Ho! Ho!

To get in touch with Santa, contact him at 404-936-2888, or visit