A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

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.

17 thoughts on “A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

  1. Oooh! Never realized I was the first commenter! Also tells me I should be going to bed NOW. Peace.

  2. I see some First Amendment problems here…..Just kidding! Merry Christmas! I attended a mass last night at a friends church and it was really beautiful and sort of moved me and I am not even religious!

  3. Just the perfect thing I needed to wake up to a beautiful Christmas morning.. Thanks Anna for the wonderful post. Merry Christmas to all mutineers, their well-wsihers, their not-so-well wishers, commenters and lurkers alike!

  4. Anna: Merry X’mas to you, and all exteneded SM Families. We should all be thankful for what we have and wish health and prosperity to all well wishers.

  5. The joy and twinkle that I see in my kids eyes after seeing this Santa tracker is too precious for me. My 5 yr old can’t stop talking abt how fast Santa goes around the world and wonders if Santa can just take astronauts to the other Solar system in his super fast sleigh :)

    Happy Holidays to all of you.

  6. Haha did you hear, at almost the end of the video, someone says “this is 7-11.. roger standby” Funny (considering Santa was passing over India)

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  7. “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.”

    This can be easily outsourced, you know… :-)

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Please do not submit story ideas or tips via the comment threads. Email us or use the News Tab, we really appreciate it! Hope you all had a lovely day, me, I’ve been stuck minding the monkeys, who are on a sugar high from all the gingerbread, candy canes and cookies. Merry Christmas to me!

  9. Just be glad you didnt have to spend the extra time in a mall trying to buy presents for those extra people. I dont know about you but I feel like I am being toyed with by all these retail shops when I am shoved into a giant mall that is wall to wall with angry people trying to fill that emptiness in there lives with jeans that are 30% off. Well the grass is always greener on the other side isnt it?