So every year NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), a coalition between the United States and Canada, puts up this Santa Tracker, taking tabs of where Santa’s been along his annual trip. Now I don’t remember if they’ve always had this feature, but if you go to the site this year, you can watch video of his appearance (anyone of those green & red baubles you see up there). Someone’s done a handy animation of Santa on his sleigh being pulled by the reindeer – seems like a lot of work for a fictional character.
Obviously, someone has pointed this out to NORAD before, because they have a link under their “About NORAD” section answering why they track Santa. Seems that this has been a tradition since the 1950’s after a Sears Roebuck ad accidentally ran CONAD’s (NORAD predecessor, Continental Air Defense Command) Commander-in-Chief’s phone number, which caused a barrage of kids calling in to his private hotline.
So rather than break the little tykes’ hearts, the Director of Operations of the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his men check up on the jolly old coot’s coordinates and give the snot-nosed kids updates. Even after the coalition between the two North American countries, the tradition remained intact. But in actuality, we’re just adding to Santa’s plight.
It’s a little known fact that Chris Kringle has been cursed with the task of delivering presents to the children of the world. Don’t take my word for it, here’s a 100-word short story from Neil Gaiman*, which details the sorrow of the Santa’d one. Thanks to Mirathon for making it available online.
Older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die.
The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not actually working in the factories.
Once very year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves’ invisible gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen into time.
He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.
Ho. Ho. Ho.
*(If you love Sherlock Holmes as I do, read A Study in Emerald here)