Santa: Hello? [To elf] I don’t think this thing is working. There’s no one… [Into phone] Hello? Hello?
DALS: Hi, Santa. Santa? I’m here.
Santa: Oh, okay. [To elf] It’s working now, Shorty. Go wrap. [Into phone] So, what can I do for you?
DALS: First, I just wanted to say it’s an honor talking to you and thanks so much for taking a few minutes of your time today. [All chipper-like] How’s everything going up there?!
Santa: I’m buried, man. It’s busy. You know.
DALS: I can’t even imagine.
Santa: No, you can’t. It’s a ton of ground to cover, let’s put it that way. I don’t want to complain, but yeah: it’s a lot. My back is killing me, bro. Bag’s heavy. Lotta Franzen requests this year.
DALS: Like I said, I can’t even —
Santa: Eh, you know what? Who cares. I don’t wanna complain. That’s the deal, right? I mean, this is what I signed up for.
DALS: Right. Well, thanks again for taking the time. It’s a real honor.
Santa: What’s this interview about, anyway? My publicist tells me nothing.
DALS: Okay, real quick: this is for a family dinner website and —
Santa: Family dinner? Wait, let me guess: You went to Brown.
DALS: [Confused] Brown? No, actually. I, uh, I was hoping to talk to you for a few minutes about food, and, you know, the sense of community we kind of create around it.
Santa: Yeah, I’m here. I really don’t have a lot of time.
DALS: I know, I know. I’m sorry. I was just wondering if maybe you could share a holiday food tradition with our readers. Is there one thing that sticks out in your mind?
Santa: Hoo boy. This is serious? Okay, here’s my tradition: I come down the chimney and eat whatever is there, and then I move on. Hold on a sec. [Covers phone with hand] You call that a bow, Shorty? That’s EMBARRASSING, is what that is! No. Try again. [Into phone] Sorry about that. Sometimes I find food, and sometimes — mostly in France — I find nothing. Someone in Vegas left me a Red Bull once. We about done here?
DALS: Almost. I just wanted to ask you if you had anything memorable that you wanted to share with my readers — you know, food-wise.
Santa: Memorable? Okay, lemme think real quick. Uh, yeah. There’s one thing. There was a chimney I used to climb down in Virginia. This was in the Stone Age — probably 1980, back when I was lugging all those freakin’ Ataris around. At the bottom of this chimney was a really nice spread. That was good. Hit the spot.
DALS: What was it?
Santa: [Sighs heavily] Two carrots, peeled, for my reindeer, a can of Budweiser, and a —
DALS: Wait, did you say a can of Budweiser?
Santa: You heard me.
DALS: Okay, sorry. I interrupted you. What else was there?
Santa: There was this plate of cookies. Amazing , amazing sugar cookies. Frosted, too. I ate the hell out of those cookies.
DALS: Why do you remember them, above all others?
Santa: They were colorful. Sweet and a little bit salty. Pretty but not too pretty, if you know what I mean. Buttery, too. God, I love butter. My d-bag cardiologist is constantly harping on me about this. The guy’s a nightmare. But come on: I’m human, sort of. Butter is good. I can’t not eat butter. Anyway, these cookies were in all these happy, cheerful Christmasy shapes — bells and trees, snowmen and holly leaves and reindeer with raisins for eyes. I don’t know. You could just tell that whoever made them cared a lot. Some little kid put some love into those cookies. Man, it sounds cheesy when you say it like that. That last part is off the record.
DALS: It’s all about the salt, isn’t it? It’s that magical interplay between the sweet and the —
Santa: Whaddya, get paid by the question or something? [To elf] Another break? Seriously? There’s 200,000 more iPads that need boxing, Shorty. 200,000. And don’t give me the tired eyes, okay? [Into phone] I’m sorry, I gotta go. Miles to go and all.
DALS: Okay, okay. I just want to make sure I have this right: Two peeled carrots, a Budweiser, and those sugar cookies. Where do you think I might find that recipe?
Santa: You’re on your own there, mon frere. Probably a family heirloom, is my guess. And another thing…
DALS: Yes, Santa?
Santa: Lose the number.
Santa-Endorsed Christmas Cookies
Makes about Three Dozen
In a large bowl, whisk together:
- 2 3/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
In another large bowl, using a mixer, blend together until light and fluffy:
- 3/4 cups softened unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond extract, if that’s your thing)
Slowly beat flour mix into butter mixture. Wrap in wax paper and chill in fridge until firm, at least 1 hour. Roll out dough on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. Using your favorite cookie cutters, make cookies. Bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes.
Blend together: 1/4 cup butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup milk (heated), 1 teaspoon vanilla. Separate into bowls and add two or three drops of food coloring to each. Spread on cooled cookies and top with sprinkles and sugar crystals. The frost will be gooey at first, but will harden after spread. If frosting hardens in the bowl, just stir with a whisk to loosen it. Apply liberally.