He gave me quite a fright. It must have been about midnight. I was sitting at my computer struggling with a column when all the sudden he was there, standing right behind me. I understand youd like to interview me, Santa said. How did you get in here...Whats going on? I stammered. Forget that stuff, he smiled. Do you want to talk or not; Im pretty busy right now. Sure, I answered, gathering my wits. Id been wanting to interview Santa for years. I have a lot of questions, questions others probably wonder about, too. Assuring him I would give away no secrets, Santa agreed to be grilled by the Times of Ti. Times of Ti: When was the best Christmas ever? Santa: The first one. It gave the world hope of something better, much better. It placed love above all else. Everything Ive done these last 2,000 years has been an attempt to give love and hope. There are no greater gifts. Times of Ti: When was the worst Christmas? Santa: Theres never been a bad Christmas. Every Christmas is wonderful. Times of Ti: There must be one that wasnt as good as others. When? Santa: Well, maybe 1941. That was a tough year; a lot of fear and uncertainty because of the war. But even in the worst of times Christmas shines through. Christmas cant be denied. Times of Ti: How do you determine whether a person has been naughty or nice? Santa: Theres nothing specific. I look into their heart. Whats important isnt that people always do the right thing; the important thing is that they try. Thats what I look for. Times of Ti: How do you get around the entire world in one night? Santa: Im not going to give away any secrets here. Lets say its Christmas magic and leave it at that. You believe in Christmas magic, dont you? Times of Ti: Yeah, I guess so. Santa: What do you mean you guess so. Just look around you. People are happy, hopefulexcept when theyre in those darn malls. You know, those malls have done more to kill Christmas spirit than anything in the past 2,000 years, but thats another story. Christmas magic is everywhere. Remember that little girl you took a picture of on my lap in Ticonderoga? Remember the look on her face? Thats Christmas magic. Times of Ti: Whats the best part of your job? Santa: Oh, the smiles. You know, everyone smiles when they see Santa, unless theyre in a mall. And its not just kids; adults love Santa, too. Times of Ti: Are there any bad aspects to being Santa? Santa: Nope, not a one. I love it. Times of Ti: Does it bother you that some people dont believe in Santa? Santa: They believe, they just wont admit it to themselves. Theyre afraid theyll look silly if they admit they believe in something they dont understand. You know, sooner or later all those non-believers come around. Times of Ti: What do you do in the off season? Santa: Well, theres really not an off season. Dec. 26 I sleep in a little, but then we start work on next Christmas. Like Ive been saying, Christmas magic is important, but magic alone doesnt cut the mustard. Christmas miracles are a lot of hard work. Times of Ti: What would you like for Christmas? Santa: Now theres a question I dont get asked very often. I suppose Id like forgivenessfor me, for everybody. Lets forget about all those past wrongs and get on with life. We should always be looking forward, not back. Of course, Id love to see the Cubs win the pennant. Times of Ti: Really? Thats my dream, too. How about using some of your Christmas magic to put the Cubs in the World Series? Santa: Id do it in a minute if it were possible, but some thingsnot many, but a feware beyond even Christmas magic. The Cubs in the World Series would be more than a Christmas miracle. Youll have to talk with someone with more influence than me, if you know what I mean. Times of Ti: Speaking of which, are you immortal? Will you be doing this forever? Santa: Excuse me, I dont mean to be impolite, but Ive got to get back to th North Pole. I left Rudolph in charge and the elves take advantage of his good nature. This is no time to slack off. Just remember to enjoy the moment. Christmas is special as long as you believe it is. Jingle bells, baby. Then he was gone.