It's about this time every year
, before I set out, that I have to silence the little voice in my head that says, "This is too big - you'll never make it." I know I'll make it, because I do every year, but the voice is always there too. We have these nagging doubts from time to time.
I think I have a good self-awareness. We all have blindspots to ourselves. But I try to remember the more you think of others and less of yourself, the more enlightened you are likely to be about yourself and the world.
People assume it's a plumb job, that I get to do all this travel. That I really only work on a few days of the year. But it's a brutal schedule. It's a short, intense period of work and I spend months agonising over it.
The most interesting places to deliver presents are not necessarily the houses in different countries, but the other places where people live ... cars, tents, igloos ... I see it all. It's humbling.
So many people want the numbers: how many houses do I visit? How many miles will I travel tonight? Here's the thing: you can't explain magic. Thank goodness. There is one thing left that can't be explained away or quantified or measured. It's magic, that is all. And it's real.
The fact that I haven't burnt out, that I haven't suffered ill health or emotional instability is largely - mostly, actually - thanks to the people and help around me. I am The Guy, I know. The poster boy for Christmas. But there is a support team behind me that buoys me - the unsung heroes. It gives me a heart-squeeze.
If I got a gratitude journal in my stocking, my first entry would be something like: "I am so grateful for having Mrs Claus in my life." I don't know what I did to deserve her. If love has a face, it is hers. She also has a fantastic sense of humour and reminds me to step lightly, to not feel the burden of it all.
I honestly don't know how old I am. And whatever that number is, it clearly hasn't held me back so far!
I do consider my own footprint. I do think about it. The way we travel the globe - mostly under our own steam, rather than a highly mechanised fuel-dependent way - means it's not going to have a devastating effect. But of course, we try and do things better. We have a zero-waste policy in Lapland, and use recyclable materials wherever we can.
I have a bit of a crush on Michelle Obama. In a distant way, you understand. Mrs Claus says, "Ha! In your dreams!" And then we have a big hug.
Rudolf is actually gender-fluid. I know there have been theories Rudolf is in fact a girl, but let's just say, we shouldn't put her in a box. No one should be put in a box.
Do I prefer Santa or Father Christmas? Well, Santa is clearly an American name - just as in France I am Pere Noel. I don't mind really. I suppose if I had to choose, there is something less "commercial" about Father Christmas. It seems a bit gentler, somehow. But I don't mind, it's just a name. Let a man be measured by his deeds.
It broke my heart when I realised Easter actually fell on a different date every year.
I think I'm more of an autumn red - rusty rather than bright red. But it's too late now. I'm stuck with it.
I once enjoyed a whisky with Billy Bob Thornton. He came and asked to hang out once, to research a film. We spent a few days up here in Lapland. He's far more introverted than you'd expect. He walked around mostly unnoticed here, which I think he liked for a change.
An average day in my life starts early with a squeeze of lemon juice in freshly melted snow water. Mrs Claus and I do half an hour of yoga before I get on the computer and start researching toy trends.
The sauna is where I gather my thoughts. It's my me-time. However, I am not good at being on my own. I wonder though, who is. We are social creatures, designed to be with one another - qs long as I have my "me-time" in the sauna.
If I were a meal, I'd be trifle. Honestly, it's me - in a food version. All the right colours, soft, comforting, and never goes out of fashion.
Public service comes easily to me. Perhaps, if I'm really honest, it's a case of what else would I do? I mean, I've been doing this for so long now - I can't imagine another life. I'm lucky, I guess. It's not everyone who gets to have a job that goes on and on - and I never have to experience ageism.
To listen to the dreams of children ... the joy from that is infinite. Whether it's a letter I get, tucked into my pocket. or meeting kids when I'm on a stop-over at a mall ... they are often so simple - often not about toys as such, but intangibles, like the people in their lives. What they are effectively doing is saying out loud a prayer for someone who is unwell, someone who's passed on. I am often moved to tears. They have, in the sharing of that wish, already done something good.
What I have learnt from giving is that it's a way of saying thanks.
The Christmas letter that really stood out for me this year was one from a child called Donald, who asked for a wall. Oh, that had me doubled over in stitches. What a thing! Whatever can he mean?
Death comes to everyone ... apparently. But if I were to slip off the sleigh, my epitaph might read: agent of joy.
Father Christmas is on tour from tonight, for one night only.