At the age of 41, it’s fair to say I’ve known the magic of Santa Claus for a good three decades. When my kids were born, I had the desire to keep Santa alive in their hearts for as long as I could. Only problem: I’m a horrible liar. When my then far-too-smart-for-her-own-age seven-year-old asked for the umpteenth time if Santa was real, I couldn’t lie any longer. I cried right along side her as she grieved the loss of that jolly fat man, and I grieved the loss of her innocence. What kind of mother am I?
Fast forward a few years when neither of my kids are believers anymore. We still enjoy the annual tradition of tracking Santa’s whereabouts every Christmas Eve. Which got me thinking, why in the world does the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) take the time, the money, and the energy to invest in tracking a fictional character and his eight tiny reindeer across the globe. Turns out, it was all a mistake.
According to the NORAD website, it all started by accident back in 1955. A child inadvertently called the Continental Air Defense Command (the precursor to NORAD) instead of a local department store, asking to talk to Santa Claus. The commander on duty that night quickly realized the error. In the spirit of the season, the commander pretended to be Santa to make the little kid’s dream come true. And that’s it – how incredibly sweet and simple is that?
For 65 years now, tracking Santa’s whereabouts has become the Department of Defense’s largest community outreach program. Millions of visitors go to their website coming from more than 200 countries around the world each season.
If you’re looking for something fun to do this Christmas Eve, follow Santa’s flight patterns by jumping on any of NORAD’s social media platforms linked below:
Until December 24th, enjoy the magic of the season and the joy that one simple error can bring to a world full of tiny children just watching and waiting for Christmas morning! If you’re interested in reading more, please check out PMG’s blog!
Beth Bangtson, Director of Human Resources