ORLANDO, Fla. – Christmas isn’t canceled but, like most things this year, it does look very different than what so many of us are used to due to the coronavirus pandemic.
CDC guidelines have made spending time with Santa slightly more challenging, especially those in-person visits the kids look forward to every year.
Fortunately, with the help of Mrs. Claus, the big jolly guy in red has learned to adapt to make sure that one-on-one time with Santa is still possible in the era of COVID-19.
Thanks to the elves, who helped Mrs. Claus master Facebook Live and Zoom, you can now spend some time with Santa safely during a virtual visit.
“Yes, we do our live -- we call them festive, heartwarming, personalized -- videos from the North Pole. And, well, we do that through Zoom. It’s this little thing that you go on the internet and you get on and all of a sudden, poof, the North Pole is in the comforts of your own living room,” Mrs. Claus said.
Santa and Mrs. Claus say they’re using technology to bring families together for the holidays during a year in which health officials are asking us to keep our distance.
“You know, what’s so magical about that is not only can the children see us, but the grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles from far away can all be together as a family,” Santa said. “Yes, I was very worried at the beginning of this year, obviously, how I was going to be able to visit with children and I think that it’s amazing how Santa always finds a way.”
This virtual venture started in March, when Mrs. Claus said she saw “the world started going upside down” and thought everyone could really use some cheer, even months before Christmas.
That’s when she took to Facebook Live and invited kids from all over the world to join her once a month for cheerful check-ins.
“Santa was so busy. He starts from Jan. 1 in the workshop with the toys, making the toys with the elves and the technology and all that. And I was in the kitchen, baking as I do, and I thought, ‘Well, you know, there’s got to be a way to bring some Christmas cheer every month throughout the year.’ And so I decided to go live every 25th of the month,” Mrs. Claus said.
She invited Santa to join in on her live events in October and since then, the pair has started scheduling more personal visits — some online and a few in-person, but both with safety measures in place. And every one of them full of holiday magic.
So, what can parents and their good boys and girls expect during these magical visits? Storytime, singing, encouragement of acts of kindness, arts and crafts and lots of Christmas jokes.
Here’s one Santa told me during our call, since I obviously had to set up a call with them before telling my readers about them – you know, to make sure they’re the real deal. And trust me, they are.
Here’s one from Santa and Mrs. Claus that made me chuckle:
Santa: “How much did Santa pay for his sleigh?”
Mrs. Claus: “Well, I don’t know. How much did Santa pay for his sleigh?”
Santa: “Nothing. It was on the house. Ho, Ho Ho!”
See, how can you not laugh at that?
The visits allow families to enjoy some time that’s actually filled with pretty much all fun and games, though Mrs. Claus says it’s nearly impossible for some kids not to bring up what a strange year it’s been.
But when a child does, she said she and Santa use it as a reminder to help them remember that we’re all in this together.
“We acknowledge them, we listen. And then if they ask us about [it], I always share, ‘Well, we’re wearing our masks at the North Pole, too, because we want to make sure that we keep everything safe for everybody,’ … But then we try to get back on topic about Christmas magic, and we redirect it to something that they’re interested in -- perhaps toys, technology that they want for Christmas. So there are ways to acknowledge what’s going on without bringing it down, without bringing the visit down,” Mrs. Claus said.
By the way, despite how hard 2020 has been on everyone, Santa said he is happy to report that there’s a record number of children on his “nice” list this year.
Santa and Mrs. Claus planned to take calls through Dec. 27 but, due to high demand, have recently opened some additional time slots. They are booking quickly, though, so you’ll want to schedule your visit as soon as possible.
Details on pricing and availability can be found below.
By the way, if you think you may have seen Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Central Florida area lately, you might be right.
The pair said they frequent the region because they have a second home in Kissimmee and they’ve become “very good friends with” -- if you know what I mean -- some special locals during their visits over the years, many of whom have been affected by the theme park layoffs this year.
“Santa and I, we do have a vacation home in Kissimmee, Florida. Our Christmas cottage in Kissimmee, Florida ... and we’ve met so many wonderful entertainers there and performers. We’ve attended shows there, all the theme parks, yes. And actually all over the world, all the entertainers all over the world, and we just want to send them some extra TLC,” Santa and Mrs. Claus said together. “We love all our performers and entertainers, and we’re thinking of you all.”
Mrs. Claus was even recently spotted flying solo in Central Florida, where she learned how to pump her own gas. Her friend Cami posted the whole thing on Facebook.
Proof that MRS. CLAUS 24/7 pumps her own gas, ;) ... even in a Holiday. #ellendegeneresshow #ellenshow #Ellendegeneres #ellen #ellentube #EllenPage #DEGENEROUSPosted by Cami Miller on Thursday, November 26, 2020
“Oh, well, you know, when Santa said, ‘Well, I’m so busy.’ And I said, ‘Well, you better stay in the workshop, dear.’ I said, ‘I’m just going to take the sleigh and I’m going to fly to Florida to our vacation home. And I’m going to spread some good cheer there because I thought some people needed some lifting up.’ So yes, that’s how that all happened. And it was on Thanksgiving. So I thought I’m going to thank people for working and allowing so many of us for last-minute items that we needed for our Thanksgiving dinner. We were able to go to Dollar Tree and RaceTrac, CVS and Walgreens and Celebration Hospital. I didn’t dare go in, but I did stand outside and just let them know that we’re thinking of them,” Mrs. Claus said.
She said the reason for her Thanksgiving trip was to thank those who were working during the holiday so others could enjoy their days at home, which is why she also made stops at Celebration Hospital and other local businesses during her trip.
Posted by Cami Miller on Thursday, November 26, 2020
“We’re so proud. We’re so grateful to all of the first responders, the hospital workers … and our veterans, we’d just we like to thank our veterans as well,” Mrs. Claus said.
While Santa couldn’t be there for that particular trip, he did express his gratitude for all the front line workers who have made a difference in their communities this year and wants them to know, he’s seen the outstanding work they’ve been doing.
“As a matter of fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the frontline workers that are doing such wonderful jobs and putting themselves on the lines to for all the rest of us. That is a true act of kindness and selflessness. Santa is very proud of all of them,” he said.
Mrs. Claus said she plans to continue going live on Facebook on the 25th of each month and that Santa will join her as often as he depending on how busy things get at the North Pole.
In the meantime, you can keep up with their adventures or book your visit on Mrs. Claus’ Facebook page.