Before heading for their Christmas holidays, US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump spent some time with children by taking calls from them through Norad's Santa tracking hotline on Sunday, 24 December.

Norad tracks Santa every year in a Christmas-themed entertainment programme and gives live updates via phone calls and social media to those who like to follow Father Christmas. It was first started by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) in 1955.

The US president, along with his wife, participated in phone calls from their Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. They were seen patiently answering children's questions, with the kids trying to find out where their Santa was on his journey. The children apparently did not know that Trump was answering their calls, CBS News reported.

Trump reportedly asked one child, "What would you like more than anything? Building blocks, that's what I've always liked too."

He continued, "I always loved building blocks... well, I predict Santa will bring you building blocks, so many you won't be able to use them all."

The 71-year-old also praised one child for his selfless wish. He said, "So you want your grandma to get out of the hospital? That's what your wish is? That's great. That's better than asking for some toy or something, that's much better, right?

"So your grandma's gonna be good, OK, she's gonna be good," Trump added.

Melania also took some calls and assured one child that Santa will be there once he went to sleep. She tweeted about the programme ahead of the call, saying, "Looking forward to helping kids track Santa today with @NoradSanta!" and wished her followers a Merry Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, it was reported that in 2016, nearly 114,000 phone calls were received by Norad's volunteers from around the world. There were around 22.3 million unique visitors last year on the website.

Incidentally, the Norad Santa hotline was mistakenly created 62 years ago. In 1955, a local newspaper advertisement invited children to call Santa but erroneously gave Norad's hotline number. Kids started to call the number back then, and rather than disappointing them, the staff told them they indeed knew where Santa was.

Since then, Norad – a US-Canadian operation based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado – has continued the tradition on every Christmas Eve.

US President Donald Trump participates in Norad (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Santa Tracker phone calls with children at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida REUTERS/Carlos Barria