US President Donald Trump participates in NORAD Santa tracker phone calls from the White House in Washington, Dec. 24, 2018. Image Credit: Reuters

WASHINGTON: A 7-year-old girl who talked to President Donald Trump on Christmas Eve still left out milk and cookies for Santa despite the president telling her it was "marginal" for a child of her age to still believe in the jolly old elf.

Then again, Collman Lloyd of Lexington, South Carolina, says she had never heard the word "marginal" before.

Collman had called the NORAD Tracks Santa program Monday night to check on Santa's journey delivering toys. In an interview with the Post and Courier of Charleston, she said the scientist who answered the NORAD phone asked her if she would like to speak to the president.

Six minutes later, Trump was on the line. "Are you still a believer in Santa?" Trump asked. When she responded, "Yes, sir," the president added, "Because at 7, that's marginal, right?"

Collman didn't know what "marginal" meant and simply answered, "Yes, sir." Trump closed by saying, "Well, you just enjoy yourself."

Trump's chat with Collman was initially reported as being with a boy named Coleman. Only Trump's end of the conversation could be heard by reporters, but Collman's family later posted video of the call on YouTube.

Collman told the Post and Courier that she and her 10-year-old sister and 5-year-old brother left iced sugar cookies and chocolate milk for Santa. She reported that Christmas morning, the food was gone and presents were under the tree.

In a twinkling, Twitter was bombarded with messages railing against the president for what sounded to some as if he was casting doubts on a cherished fantasy of childhood.

"It's just too freaking fantastic that Trump spent his Christmas Eve calling seven year olds and telling them believing in Santa at their age is 'marginal,'" Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said on his Twitter account

Actually there is no heaven," tweeted Dan Amira, head writer for "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" comedy show. "When you die you just rot in the ground and get eaten by worms. Okay Merry Christmas, Timmy." Others defended Trump.

"Trump does a lot of things wrong, but suggesting to a 7 year old that Santa doesn't exist is probably the one right thing he's done while in office," said a man identified on his Twitter account as Irtiza Sheikh. "Someone's gotta do it." The White House had no immediate comment on the social media response to the president's Santa comments.

In 2017, Trump spent the holidays at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, with his family, but for his second Christmas as president, Trump opted to cancel his holiday getaway because of the partial federal government shutdown. It began last week when top lawmakers failed to end an impasse over funding for his proposed wall along the border with Mexico.

Stuck in Washington on Christmas morning 2018, Trump displayed little holiday cheer while speaking with reporters after a 20-minute video conference with U.S. troops serving abroad.

He assailed the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates, railed against Democrats who refuse to fund the wall he wants to build on the U.S.-Mexico border, and blasted the investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia, among other regular targets.

The president then closed with holiday wishes of sorts.

"It's a disgrace, what's happening in our country," he said.

"But other than that, I wish everyone a very merry Christmas."