One of my little sister’s Air Force buddies in Colorado sent me an urgent email with the following important information:
I have been following Santa on NORAD via Twitter, to make sure my little cousins in every time zone got spoiled, but I managed to miss this part of his journey, so I’m grateful for the message. Maybe it all went down while we were distracted? Matters not.
Do you know why NORAD tracks Santa? It’s one of my favorite stories:
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born…
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD. NORAD inherited the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to Christmas Eve phone calls and emails from children. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Last year, millions of people who wanted to know Santa’s whereabouts visited the NORAD Tracks Santa website.
Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide Christmas Eve updates on Santa’s journey. [link]
Isn’t that sweet? Fifty-three years ago, I’m sure Colonel Shoup and his staff could’ve done without the incessant phone calls thrown their way thanks to a printing mistake, but I love thinking about the moment when he realized what had happened and stepped up, and didn’t let a child down. What a mitzvah.Once again, I feel holiday solidarity with a few of you. I didn’t go home for Christmas this year, because my Mother is traveling; being alone has been a blessing, though because it allows for real introspection, at a time of year which is difficult for a lot of us, for a plethora of reasons.
The holidays are supposed to be joyful and bright, but for some, they are hardly that; while many of us think of depression as something that “other people” deal with, if there’s one time of year when a LOT of people are affected by it, it’s now; the anxiety over economic or political problems can’t be helping. If you’re blue, then this shout-out is for you. This is a difficult moment, in many ways. It’s easy to get caught up in that, so I try to focus on what’s simple and good…like a way to track Santa, around the globe, or the spontaneous decision by Colonel Shoup to do so 53 years ago, even though it wasn’t his problem. It works for me, YMMV.
All I wish for is that every child, no matter their chronological age, wakes up to a beautiful tomorrow. We all deserve magic, happiness and hope, no matter whom we worship or when we bow our heads to do so. That’s my wish, for you.