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Interview with a holiday helper

December 23, 2012
By KELLY VAN DE WALLE ( , Times-Republican

Every Christmas I'm permitted to spend a few dollars of the newspaper's nearly inexhaustible budget to fly around the world to interview some of the holiday's most recognizable figures. The past two years I've been fortunate to interview Frosty and Rudolph (I'm allowed to call him "Rudy" because we're "bros" now. His words). This year I'm joined by one of Santa's senior support staff. Below is a transcript of our interview.

Kelly Van De Walle (KV): Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today."

Herman the Elf (H): "My pleasure."

KV: "Is your name really Herman?"

H: "Is your name really Kelly?"

KV: "Touch, Herman."

H: "Thank you."

KV: "Is that a common elf name?"

H: "What, do you think we're all named Jangles?"

KV: "Well, not 'Jangles' per say"

H: "Then what?"

KV: "I don't knowPeaches? Sugarplum? Buckets?"

H: "You're not one of your race's smarter specimens, are you?"

KV: "Golly no."

H: "Nor one of their most masculine, judging by the 'Golly' you actually just said out loud."

KV: "You're right. Don't tell anybody about that bit and I'll make sure my editor takes it out. I have a reputation to uphold."

H: "You got it."

KV: "Getting back to you ... so ... Herman?"

H: "Yep, Herman. It's not that uncommon of an elf name. I mean, we have our share of Laekjaraegirs, Gluggagaegirs, Wunorses and Bushys, but those are generally the offspring of elfish parents that spent too much time in the workshop's paint department. What's YOUR excuse for your celebrities naming their kids Apple, Coco, Ocean and Blanket?

KV: "We don't claim those people."

H: "Most elves I know are named Kevin."

KV: "In human lore, elves can be mischievous creatures. Is that in your nature?"

KV: "What is it?"

H: "Well, I was going to do this later but ... check your wallet."

KV: "Check my wal ... what do you ... hey! Where is it?!"

H: "Sorry, here you go."

KV: "What the heck? How did you get it?"

H: "I'm an elf."

KV: "So, what, you have magic powers?"

H: "Some. But a lot of it is just slight-of-hand, misdirection and other tactics. David Copperfield is actually one-quarter Elf."

KV: "That explains a lot. Is Dr. Oz an Elf?"

H: "Last I heard he was equal parts hobbit and gremlin."

KV: "Now what?"

H: "You have a beautiful family."

KV: "Thanks ... well, wait. Wait. What do you mean? How do YOU know?"

H: "I may have seen them in a picture."

KV: "You appear to have somehow replaced me in the family photo I carry in my wallet with a picture of your rear adorned with a green pointed hat."

H: "An improvement if you ask me."

KV: "Nice. So I've gotta ask; how are you able to build so many toys?"

H: "Well, first off, there's a few thousand of us. That helps. And the magic. We elves are also naturally gifted at plastics, woodworking and general engineering."

KV: "How many toys do you produce in a day?"

H: "It's hard to say. Most of our records are kept on tablets made of graham crackers and we have a hungry staff. Probably a few hundred thousand units."

KV: "That's quite impressive. Often I have trouble doing two things in the same day."

H: "Well, if I'm being completely honest, we do outsource some of the work to goblins, orcs and fairies. And it doesn't hurt that we have a diet mainly consisting of coffee, sugar cookies, taffy, Lucky Charms, Mountain Dew and Red Bull."

KV: "That doesn't sound healthy."

H: "You don't have the right to criticize. I've seen your bacon-wrapped meat logs."

KV: "What's your official position?"

H: "This one!"

KV (muffled): "I mean in the workshop. Please stop hugging my face."

H: "I'm manager of the unicorn division."

KV: "What does that entail?"

H: "I make sure there's enough color, sparkle and the right number of horns on each one. And ensure the horns are put in the right spot."

KV: "Right spot?"

H: "Let's just say when elves hopped up on sugar get bored we have hilariously active imaginations."

KV: "The Naughty List. What can you tell me about that?"

H: "Sorry, that's classified. All I can tell you is that yes, there is a list. And no, you can't see it."

KV: "How many days do you work?"

H: "We Christmas elves don't really see it as work. It's a passion. We were born to make toys. And cookies. I could go for a cookie right now. Cookiecookiecookie."

KV: "So what do you do when you're not making toys?"

H: "I'm not going to lie, we have a pretty amazing rec. room. Water slides made out of waffle cones with milk chocolate swimming pools; gumdrop castles; pools filled with cotton candy; laser tag; meringue ski slope; Twizzler tug-of-war; trampoline-into-wall-of-taffy; it's great."

KV: "I'd really like to come live with you."

H: "Sorry, bub."

KV: "... please? I'll wear the shoes."

H: "... Riiiight. Look. I have to get going here so ..."

KV: "Oh, fine. Is there anything else you'd like to add?"

H: "Oh! Big Red sent me here with a message."

KV: "What's that?"

H: "Merry Christmas!"


Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via Pierre the sock puppet (communicates only in French, but he doesn't know French so just talks in a stereotypical and slightly offensive accent). Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he'll give you eight geese-a-laying and, really, what would you do with all that?



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