• According To Kids: Santa’s Holiday Survival Guide

    NBC’s Lester Holt interviews Mandell School students all about Santa Claus for a Friday Christmas Special!

    By Maria Bonello

    Amid rows and rows of books and some clutter left behind by a film crew sat six Santa-loving children—siblings, friends, and classmates—in the corner of the Mandell School library on the Upper West Side. These little believers were nervously waiting to be interviewed by Dateline NBC’s Lester Holt. The topic? How to ensure an efficient and less stressful Christmas for Santa Claus.

    As they waited, the most talkative of the bunch, eight-year-old Zoe, enthusiastically declared that the “Christmas spirit” is what matters most during the holidays—not gifts and goodies. Yes, despite the overwhelming distractions during this magical time of year (like the anticipation of presents, sweets, and dazzling lights), the true significance of the holiday season had not escaped these schoolchildren.

    The Mandell students are actually given a plethora of opportunities, especially during the holidays, to immerse themselves in the idea of unity among the community and family. Head of School Gabriella Rowe says, “We believe strongly in the role of each individual child in the community. I think the best way they can really understand that is to experience it.”

     In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, volunteer activities that stress the importance of giving to the less fortunate, not taking, have clearly defined “Christmas spirit” for these little ones.  For those families who have lost everything, the Mandell students, for example, have been gathering holiday gifts so that they too can revel in holiday cheer, despite the tragedy. It was therefore no surprise when one Mandell student stressed to Holt that a break to enjoy the moment and remember how special Christmas really is would relax Santa.

    Holt admits that the interviews with the kids were “delightful.” Among them are a few pieces of advice for Santa and his crew that gave the adults in the room a little chuckle. A quick and efficient delivery, some kids assured Holt, could be achieved by a tracking app; enlisting more elves and Mrs. Claus to help with Santa’s big job; and even adding a dragon (yes, a dragon!) along with the original nine reindeer to help pull the sleigh faster. To get through this hectic time of year, their little imaginations sent the man in red swimming in the ocean, basking in the Hawaiian sun, and enjoying a spa weekend, along with a massage or two.

    Take their insightful advice, parents, and relax! Here’s a glimpse at what the kiddies have to say about the holiday season. And be sure to tune in to NBC on Friday, December 21 at 10 pm for their Christmas Special.

    On Milk & Cookies

    Willow: I like to give him milk and cookies. I think he has this magic power. He goes FOOM! (pointing her finger like a wand) and the cookies end up in his stomach and they taste really yummy. So he can go on his way very fast.

    Avery: Last year, he ate some of my cookies, but I ate the rest. He just ate one bite because he had a diet. I could eat it because he didn’t have germs.

    On The Reindeer

    Francis: Actually, the reindeer like berries and parsnips, not dog biscuits or carrots.

    On Santa’s Hard Work & Relaxation

    Rosie: Santa has to make the gifts.

    James: No! He delivers them like a mailman. His elves are making the toys, so he doesn’t have to lay around the North Pole.

    Zoe: I am drawing Santa on the beach in Hawaii. He takes that elephant wherever he goes because an elephant can get a tan. Remember, reindeer don’t like the hotness and Mrs. Claus is too busy baking cookies.

    See the full Christmas Special on NBC this Friday, December 21 at 10pm. Happy Holidays!

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