A few weeks ago I had a conversation with Santa Claus about his experiences with the Alexander Technique. We had to keep out talk short as it took place during the busiest time of year for him.
Me: Santa, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview. I know you’re knee-deep in wrapping paper and Christmas gifts right now.
Santa: It’s pretty busy here all right. Mrs. Claus and I, along with the elves, are working flat out. But I’m always glad to speak about the Technique developed by F. Matthias Alexander.
Me: Well, speaking of Mrs. Claus, I understand she was the person who got you to take Alexander Technique lessons. How did that come about?
Santa: Yes my wife was pregnant with our first child, Santa Junior, a few years ago and she felt it was best to go Down South for the birth where they have proper facilities. While she was there, she mentioned to her midwife that she had been having a lot of back pain. Her midwife suggested she have Alexander Technique lessons and, long story short, her pain was sorted out and I have to say when she and Junior returned to the North Pole, she seemed sprightlier than I’d seen her in ages.
She thought the Technique could help me with my computer work. I do a lot of toy designing on the computer these days and I had developed serve neck and shoulder pain from, as I now realize, poking my head towards the screen and tightening my neck. She also thought the elves could benefit as well. They spend hours bent over their work benches making the toys and a lot of them suffer from back, neck and shoulder pain.
Me: How did you manage to get Alexander lessons for yourself and the elves?
Santa: Well, I persuaded a teacher to visit us for a week and a half and he gave us all lessons, mostly in groups. I could sense the difference almost at once and the elves took to it very quickly indeed. The only downside is that now I have to be on the lookout going into the workroom as the elves are often doing their constructive rest on the floor and they’re pretty easy to trip over. More recently, since we finally got high-speed internet up here, we’ve taken to having Skype sessions from time to time, which have been very useful.
Me: That’s an amazing story Santa. Do you find the lessons helped with the toy delivery process? I imagine that walking around on ice-covered roofs and sliding down chimneys requires a high level of coordination and balance.
Santa: Tell me about it! Have you ever tried going up and down the inside of a chimney? But, yes, the Technique has made those tasks a lot easier. But the biggest thing I notice on Christmas Eve is that it’s a lot easier to manage the reindeer.
Me: I thought Rudolf and his red nose took care of a lot of that.
Santa: Rudolf? Don’t get me started on him. Yes, he has a nice bright nose. And yes it provides a bit of light. But how do you think his nose got so bright? That reindeer has a serious vodka problem. And while I appreciated the light, his guidance was, to put it mildly, erratic. Thankfully I now have GPS and Rudolph is confined to back-up duty.
Me: How did the Technique help with the reindeer?
Santa: Driving a herd of reindeer is no easy feat. Those guys have strong wills of their own and they’re forever getting to arguments and butting each other with their antlers. Keeping them in line requires a lot of skill, a lot of eye-hand coordination and a very strong voice. The Alexander Technique has been a great help in all those areas.
I have to say I am very grateful to Mrs. Claus for telling me about the Technique, and very grateful for Mr. Alexander for developing it.
One other thing: During the Elves’ constructive rest periods she often reads to them from Alexander’s books. Their favorite is The Use of the Self – they keep wanting to hear Chapter 1, “Evolution of a Technique” – and one day she announced she was going to write her own book, The Use of the Elf!
Me: Thank you Santa – I really appreciate you taking the time to talk a little about your Alexander Technique experiences. Merry Christmas to you, Mrs Claus and all the elves.
Santa: We all wish you, and all the other wonderful Alexander Technique teachers around the world, a Merry Christmas too!
After our interview was over, Santa told me that despite his problems with Rudolph, this is one of his favorite Christmas Songs. He always listens to it on his iPod while making deliveries.
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net