All Derek Jeter wants for Christmas is to feel like a kid again.
“For me, the holidays are just about being together as a family – which we still do now,” he told PEOPLE at the annual Turn 2 Holiday Express event in New York City on Monday. “The holiday times are when everyone still feels like a kid, and I still feel that way when we get together.”
The former Yankees shortstop, 40, was there to channel his inner Santa and surprise hundreds of children from the five boroughs with an unexpected visit as part of his Turn 2 Foundation, which engages children in healthy activities to help them avoid drugs and alcohol.
He credits his 3-year-old nephew, Jalen, as his inspiration for the cause.
“Kids nowadays are going to be the leaders of the future, and the leaders for not only Jalen, but my kids one day when I have them,” he said.
“I look forward to being a dad,” added Jeter, who has been dating St. Thomas-born model Hannah Davis, 24, since 2012 – and rumors of wedding bells have been in overdrive since his retirement.
But for now, he’s happy just being Uncle Derek.
“When you’re an uncle, you can get rid of them when you want to get rid of them!” he joked, laughing.
As for what he’s planning for after the holidays, now that his schedule is open?
“I haven’t had a summer vacation since I was 11,” he said, “so I’m going to go and hide by myself somewhere.”