Washington: President Donald Trump asked a 7-year-old boy if he still believed in Santa Claus while taking calls from children on Christmas Eve.

“Are you still a believer in Santa? ’Cause at 7 it’s marginal, right?" Trump said while he and First Lady Melania Trump answered telephone calls from children following the Santa tracker operated by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad.

“Happy Christmas. You just take care of yourself and say hello to your family, OK? Say hello to everybody. OK, thank you," Trump said in an exchange in which only his side could be heard by reporters.

The event took place on Monday night at the White House, where Trump is staying for the holiday after scrapping plans to travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida because of a partial government shutdown.

Trump told reporters after talking to the children that there was “nothing new to report" on the federal funding lapse triggered on Saturday after he and congressional Democratic leaders failed to reach agreement over money Trump wants for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

On Monday, the third day of the shutdown, there was a U.S. market rout, with the S&P 500 plunging almost 3 percent to end at a 20-month low. It was was the worst final session before the Christmas holiday on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Trump and the first lady later headed to Washington National Cathedral to attend a Christmas Eve service.

Every year on Christmas Eve, hundreds of volunteers staff telephones and computers “to keep curious children and their families informed about Santa’s whereabouts and if it’s time to get to bed," according to Norad, a U.S.-Canadian agency that keeps watch over North American airspace for possible attacks.

Norad’s tracking site stems from a Dec. 24, 1955, call made to the organization’s predecessor from a child seeking information on Santa’s whereabouts.

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