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  • Patricia Faust

How Does Santa Remember Who Is Naughty or Nice?


There is no doubt that Santa always rises to the occasion of delivering all those gifts around the world on Christmas. But he isn’t the young pup he used to be. So how does he prepare throughout the year to be in top physical and cognitive shape? Since I have never had the opportunity of seeing Santa in action, I am going to draw my own conclusions based on his performance! Let’s take a look at the parameters of a healthy brain lifestyle and see if that is how Santa maintains his youthful brain and spirit.


I have to start with physical exercise. Santa could not be that agile on Christmas Eve if he didn’t stay physically active all year. He has a workshop, reindeer farm, and a staff of elves he oversees. And since he is located in the North Pole he has the extra challenge of maneuvering around in all that snow. I am certain Santa must get his 10,000 steps in everyday. His packed daily schedule doesn’t allow for him to ‘veg’ out in front of the TV for hours on end. All of this physical exercise keeps Santa’s heart beating at a nice, strong level sending lots of blood, oxygen and carbohydrates from each heartbeat to his brain. That keeps his brain functioning at maximum while stimulating BDNF to encourage new cell growth in the hippocampus, center of learning and memory!


Santa has ample opportunity to use those new cells he grows. Can you imagine the mental challenge he is presented with everyday? There are so many advances in toys and technology occurring constantly that he must be able to understand what the next newest thing is! So Santa is constantly on the cutting edge of manufacturing. He has to have a very active learning and development department in order for the elves to keep up. Santa’s leadership skills, attention to quality and providing a vibrant, creative atmosphere for productivity uses everyone of Santa’s neurons to capacity. He must have a very extensive amount of brain resilience with all of the mental activity he participates in everyday.


Santa needs to stay in tip-top shape to function on such a high level. This becomes a bit more of a challenge when you have an aging body. This is where Mrs. Claus probably comes in. Although I am sure that Mrs. Claus has just as many duties she performs on a daily basis, I just believe that she oversees Santa’s dietary needs. Now Santa appears to be a bit on the heavy side. Is that necessarily bad? I don’t believe so in his case. Remember they live in the North Pole and having some extra body insulation should benefit him. We have also established that Santa stays very physically active. Throughout the year I bet that Mrs. Claus prepares meals that contain lots of dark-skinned fruits, dark green vegetables, lean red meat, fish, whole grains, olive oil, nuts and maybe a glass of red wine with dinner. Santa needs to stay healthy and eating a brain-healthy diet protects his brain as well as his heart. Then on Christmas Eve all of those treats of cookies and milk won’t be a problem.


The North Pole may be on the edge of our world but Santa doesn’t lack friends or companions. In fact, he has quite an extensive ‘tribe’. Mrs. Claus provides such loving support and companionship that Santa is always upbeat and happy. The elves love Santa and always have his back. If something is awry in the workshop they have the ability to problem-solve the situation. Santa is a very involved leader but trusts his elves to do their job. He has developed a very productive environment where morale and camaraderie are exceptionally high. Santa derives much satisfaction from his enterprise. He is passionate about making sure that children the world-round have a very happy Christmas. His passion is palpable throughout all of the North Pole.


Santa has a very long night shift when he travels around the world delivering all the gifts. How does he recover from that demanding night? No doubt Mrs. Claus makes sure that Santa has time to unwind when he gets back to the North Pole. Taking a little time to decompress after such a hectic season followed by a demanding night is important for Santa to let the adrenalin subside and feel tired enough to fall asleep. Now the North Pole is very dark most of the day as well as the night, so Santa’s circadian rhythms are a bit exaggerated. He makes sure that they have full spectrum lighting in all of the workshops and in his house. On Christmas Eve day, he makes taking a good nap a priority so that he has enough energy to deliver gifts to kids all over the world.


You would think that with all of these responsibilities Santa would be totally stressed out. For 364 days he is overseeing a massive operation so that everything is perfect on Christmas Eve. It is enough to stress me out just thinking about it. But he is Santa and he knows that he has no time for stress to shut him down. It turns out that Santa meditates!! He takes time for himself everyday to sit and quiet his mind. That has been a practice for him as long as he has been around. Santa stays centered as the whirlwind of his activities surround him. And it must work! Have you ever seen a picture of a stressed out Santa? Not me – I am impressed with his jolly demeanor.


The question still exists – How does Santa remember who is naughty or nice? As I just demonstrated, Santa’s brain is high functioning. He does all of the right things to keep it in tip-top shape. How does that impact his memory? Delivering gifts to everyone around the world is actually a numbers game. As the status of behavior comes into the North Pole all year round, Santa can stay current on his naughty or nice list. Since the number of those being naughty is very small compared to the nice group – Santa has a smaller set of names to remember. He chunks that information so that he has more brain power to draw on. Santa uses other memory tools to stay on top of this list. Creating the list is a very beneficial memory tool. Even though Santa’s amazing feats of memory are well known, he recognizes that he can’t afford to make a mistake and he always checks his list twice. And he draws on the experience of delivering gifts for many, many years to be able to be on autopilot when it comes to the ‘Big Night’. He doesn’t have to think of every little step he needs to take to get all of his deliveries made. Repetition and consistency create new neural pathways in the brain. Santa has developed some deeply embedded and active neural pathways over the years. That is what makes him the best at what he does.


So, to recap – Santa’s healthy brain lifestyle enables him to stay at the top of his game. He has honed his memory skills over the years and has created a very successful plan of action for Christmas Eve. Your brain doesn’t know how old you are. Santa is proof of that. He should be thanked for being the model of a healthy brain lifestyle, a sharp, reliable memory, and providing a vision that we can believe in. New Year’s resolution: live like Santa Claus.


“Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!”



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