He's one of the most famous people in history, known to children and parents the world over. He perfected the super-sonic reindeer years before NASA and has singlehandedly kept Toys R Us in business throughout the recession. This year the man in red sat down with me to deliver a special Christmas message:
"I'm gay," he tells me with a festive chortle. "I guess I've always known, deep down. I had a moment of clarity a few years ago when the elves and I were wrapping a consignment of Princess Bride Barbie and Sweet Talking Ken dolls. I've never really cared for Barbie, but I couldn't put my finger on why. Then I looked down at one of the Ken dolls, effortlessly cool in his baby blue t-shirt and denim jeans, and I realised: I wanted to be the one dating Ken."
Initially he kept his sexuality private. Eventually he built up enough courage to tell Rudolph, who, he says, took the news in stride. Now determined to live life on his terms, he's quitting the Christmas present business and retiring to Florida.
"Do you have any idea how cold it gets in the North Pole? Do you know how depressing it is to be on Grindr and see that the nearest non-elf action is 497 miles away in Svalbard?! And even then he's Norwegian, so he's going to wreak of herring! I've had enough of the ice and snow and the cracked lips and dry skin. I'm moving to Key West. I need some sun, and I hear they have some great bars down there."
Given that he's known about his sexuality for a while, I ask him why he's chosen now to make a public statement. Does he hope his openness and honesty will serve as a beacon to others?
"You know, emotionally, 2011 was a big year for me," he sighs. "Three of my biggest heroes came out. It started back in January with Jonathan Knight. I've always been a huge New Kids on the Block fan. Ever since they released "Hangin Tough." Man, I love that song. After Tiffany outed him, I was in the middle of adding her to our "naughty girls list" when he published that statement on the group's website. I cried when I read it. He was so brave to do it right before the tour.
"Then in May, Don Lemon announced he way gay, too! That was a shock! The headline I saw read, "CNN anchor comes out," so naturally I assumed it was Anderson Cooper. I was so happy it was Don, though. He's way hotter. Then, finally, in October, Zachary Quinto pushed me over the edge. Three of my all-time role models had come out! I knew I had to take a stand."
I ask him how Mrs Claus took the news. Did she feel deceived, or was she supportive of what must have been a very difficult period of discovery for him?
"I think she knew all along," he tells me. "I mean, we never had children. We never actually consummated our marriage. The closest we got was a bit of heavy petting under the mistletoe, with our eyes closed. Whenever I reopened my eyes, it was always like she knew I'd been imagining Bradley Cooper. She's told me she's going to stay with the elves and reindeer and carry on delivering toys to all the good girls and boys. She's actually dating one of the elves now."
The news that Mrs Claus will continue the family business will be welcomed by children and gender equality groups alike, but why give up the occupation that made Santa Claus a household name?
"Let's be honest," he says, "the whole delivering presents thing... it's not a great way to meet other gay men. So few gay guys have kids these days. I just don't see them on my rounds, and if I do, they're asleep! It's not for me anymore. All those glasses of milk and cookies have ruined my waistline. I'm booked on a gay cruise at Easter, and I need to have washboard abs by then so I can hang out by the pool in my Speedos. It's Atkins all the way for me from now on."
I ask him if he regrets coming out so late in life after having spent so many years in the closet. Does he expect to find love in an increasingly youth-oriented gay scene?
"Not in the slightest," he laughs, "I'm famous! If Elton John can snag himself a partner 15 years his junior, I sure as hell can! I plan on having some man candy hanging off one of my arms faster than you can type daddyhunt.com!"
Our interview is over, and I thank him for taking the time to talk to me. As a passing shot, I ask if it's likely I'll get the iPhone 4S I asked for come Christmas Day. He rolls his eyes skyward and starts to walk away. I wrote him a letter about it back in November, so did he pass it on to Mrs Claus before he left? He mumbles something inaudible about a local leather bar and is gone. I take that to mean yes. I'm excited. I know I won't be able to sleep come Christmas Eve.
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