Going way back to the days that all of us were kids, one man has been the star of our winter breaks. And he still is that for kids everywhere today. The prospect of Santa coming on Christmas Eve and leaving us new stuff under the tree gets us through those last, lumbering school days of December. Just after his crazy time of year and before he heads off on his own extended winter break, we grabbed a quick check-in with ol’ Saint Nick.
(Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length, mostly a bunch of “Ho, Ho, Ho”s.)OK, an around-the-globe all-nighter every Christmas Eve. That has to require coffee in some form. It does. Mrs. Claus packs a big sack full of thermoses of black coffee. And every now and again, I get coffee or tea left out for me with the cookies and chocolates.
No one hears from more kids around the world than you. I know their letters are supposed to be about what they want for Christmas, but I’m guessing they sometimes share other hopes and thoughts with you. What can you tell us about kids these days? Yes, they do. And kids these days are pretty much the same as kids of any days, just fancier gadgets on their lists. But lots of the letters I get don’t even have lists of toys or gifts they want. The children write about their families, their friends and what they want for them. And not just gifts. The warmth and generosity and sense of wonder in their letters are a big shot in the arm to us during the long days at the North Pole.
We’re particularly interested in how they feel about school. What are you hearing? And anything special coming from Finland? School comes up a lot. They generally like their teachers and really don’t like homework (most of them). That hasn’t changed much over the years. I do notice that a lot more of them, especially in America, are mentioning going to new schools that they say they like better than the schools they used to go to. Not much noteworthy coming out of Finland, other than a lot more scarves and mittens on their lists than most other places.
Any advice for those of who work in education? What can we do better for children? We’re all still trying to figure them out, me included. They never fail to surprise me. They clearly care very much about their schools. They write about them a lot, and that comes through. My only advice is to listen to them and what they want their school to do for them. And keep at it. The gifts I bring them aren’t nearly as important to their lives as what their schools bring them.
So what are your plans for relaxing now that you have some down time? I’ll go some place warm and sit on a beach. And I need to check out the World Series highlights. October is our busy time, so I always miss it. I’m used to getting millions of letters with “Cubs World Series” on their lists, so it was real strange not to have that this year. I gotta see how it happened. Even I still can’t believe that one finally came true.
Photo courtesy of Santa Claus.
Michael Vaughn was the founding Communications Director of Education Post. Prior to that, Mike worked for 18 years in the communications offices of two urban school districts. He served in a variety of communications roles for the Chicago Public Schools starting in 1996, shortly after Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of CPS, and eventually served as the district's Communications Director until ...