Papá Noel (Father Christmas) is coming to town, and he’s not joking about all that being good stuff. We spoke to him as he prepares for his busiest time of year.
What do you usually do on Lanzarote, Papá Noel?
I talk to children and take the letters that they’ve written to me. Sometimes they ask for things that their parents want, too, but they’re too embarrassed to ask themselves. I give out sweets and everyone likes to have a photo with me.
What do you talk to the children about?
Each year I bring a different message. For example, last year I’d talk to children about forgiveness and learning how to forgive people. This year my message will be about violence and the need to respect others.
Do children tell you their problems?
All the time. Sometimes I have a chat with their parents, and remind them to spend more time playing with their children. I also tell children that they should trust their teachers and other people in charge, and that they should share their problems with those whose job it is to help others.
Why do they trust you so much?
I’m Papá Noel – they know I’m always on the side of the children.
What toys do you get asked for most?
Game consoles and phones, mostly.
Do they ever ask you for new toys you’ve never heard of?
I make the toys! However, I make so many that I can’t always remember what they are, so sometimes I need a little reminder.
Do children always get what they ask for?
I have to give presents to a lot of children, and some of them are poor and hardly get any presents at all. So I tell children I’ll take a look at my list, but I can’t make any promises.
Isn’t it a kind of blackmail to tell children they’ll get presents if they’re good?
No, because that’s not what I tell them. Children are innocent, and all I do is remind them about helping other people and not fighting with each other.
Do naughty children ever try to pull your beard?
Sometimes. They think it’s not real. But I’m prepared for that – I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I know how to deal with it.
Some children are scared of Papá Noel. Is that a problem?
Once in a while. For little children it’s a very emotional event to meet Papá Noel. If they’re shy or nervous, I don’t make them do anything they don’t want to.
Is there any professional competition with the Three Kings?
Not at all. One of the Kings is a fat man who wears red, too. We both do the same thing, really – we’re on the side of good and on the side of the children.
Lots of children leave a snack for Papá Noel. What do you prefer?
Here in Lanzarote it’s usually some milk and biscuits. I prefer that to wine or sherry because I’ve got a sleigh to drive.
There aren’t many chimneys on Lanzarote. Is that a problem?
I always find a way in. It’s my job.
Where are you going to touch down on Lanzarote this year, Papá Noel?
I’ll be everywhere, of course. But I’m a good friend of Tanausú at the Deiland Shopping Centre, and I’ll be there on Christmas Eve from 11am to 2pm, taking letters and being photographed with children.