No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to keep my babies little. They are growing up so fast. Every time I look at Micah, I think “When did he get to be such a tall, handsome young gentleman?” Matthew is maturing, able to do so much for himself now, and Jesse is a 10-year-old with a heart of gold. Mikayla has always been a sweet little lady, but even “baby Nathan” is almost six, and growing out of “little kid” things.
We do Santa at our house, and Santa has been pretty amazing. We watch Santa’s progression around the globe on the NORAD Santa tracker, we set out cookies (and carrots for the reindeer!), and everyone is extra, extra good for the month of December. Ever since he was very little, Santa has made Jesse’s beloved stuffed dog “new” again every Christmas Eve. Jesse would love the stuffing out of Brown Doggie through the course of every year, so Santa’s magic was needed to keep it around!
When Matthew started seeing signs of Advent this year, he asked if he could go home and help fold laundry. With big, bright eyes, he told me, “I’m really helpful. Santa’s coming!”
Nathan, at age 5, is still learning about this whole process. Yesterday he questioned, “Wait….. you mean Santa and Jesus are ALWAYS watching us?” Then, after a quick wardrobe check, he remarked, “Phew! At least I’m wearing underwear.”
When our kids reach an age when they are ready to know more about Mr. Clause, they get a “top secret” letter. Micah was thrilled when he got his letter years ago, so excited to be let in on such a special secret, and has enjoyed being able to contribute to the magic for the rest of the family. Jesse got his letter this year, and with his usual enthusiastic joy, was ecstatic to become a part of Santa’s team. I will post the letter below … just in case you have a need for something similar at your house.
From our family to yours, we with you a holy and happy Advent season, and a very Merry Christmas!
. . .
Now that you are 10, we know that you have some questions about Christmas and Santa, and we wanted to give you good, true answers.
“Is Santa real?” The answer is “Yes!” St. Nicholas is very real. He is as real as any other saint in heaven. But he lives in heaven, and in our hearts, not at the North Pole. He lives in every single person who works to keep his spirit of joy, generosity, and love for the Infant Jesus alive.
Mom and Dad are the people who fill your stocking and wrap the presents that appear by the fireplace – just as our parents did for us, their parents did for them, and you will do for your kids someday. But, we are not Santa. There is no one, single Santa.
Santa is billions of people who keep the spirit of Christmas alive. Santa is the magic and love and spirit of giving to others. What he does, is teach children to believe in something they can’t see or touch. Throughout your life you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your family, in your friends, and in God. You’ll need to be able to believe in things you can’t measure or hold in your hands. You can’t see or measure love, generosity, or faith – but those things are very, very real.
Now you know the secret of how he gets down all of those chimneys on Christmas Eve: He has help from all of the people whose hearts he has filled with joy. You could say that he truly does have lots and lots of “elves” that help him do his job! With joyful hearts, people like Mommy and Daddy take our turn helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible. So no, we are not Santa … but we do enjoy being his elves.
Santa is the spirit of the real St. Nick, living on through years of tradition in every country across the globe. He is love and magic and hope and happiness, all started by the generous and joyful spirit of the real St. Nicholas. Can you imagine how happy St. Nick is when he gazes down on Earth and sees all the celebration for the birth of Christ, in his legacy of generosity? We are on his team, and now you are too.
Now, you are on our side of the magic, and it is a very important, privileged place to be. You will have to work hard to preserve the magic for your younger siblings and for Matthew. You can’t give us knowing glances or “thank-you’s” when you open your gift from Santa this year. You can’t wink at us or do anything else to let on that you are now a part of the magic. But you can experience the joy and wonder of it all, and let them believe in Santa. And, if they ask you if Santa is “real,” you can confidently say “Yes!”
When you were little, you were VERY hard on Brown Doggie. He was going to end up in shreds, yet you loved him like no child had ever loved a toy! We bought all the Brown Doggies we could find, then every Christmas we replaced your Brown Doggie with a new one. We needed a way to “fix” your beloved animal so you could keep loving him without having him fall apart! We have three more Brown Doggies set aside, so you can go ahead and put Brown Doggie out on Christmas Eve again if you want to.
The story of the NORAD Santa Tracker is on the back of this letter. It’s really a cool story … and proves that even the US Military is on Santa’s team, working to keep Christmas magic alive for young kids all over the world. Santa has many, many helpers.
Christmas should always feel magical, because the wonder and awe of God himself coming down to live with us as a humble baby is an incredible mystery we will never fully understand. We love you and always will. Welcome to Santa’s Team! Now, you get to help keep the magic alive too.
Love, Mommy and Daddy
. . .
North American Aerospace Defense Command
The NORAD Santa Tracker
24 hours a day, 365 days a year, NORAD tracks everything that flies in and around North America in defense of our homelands. On Dec. 24, we have the very special mission of also tracking Santa.
NORAD has been tracking Santa since 1955 when a young child accidentally dialed the unlisted phone number of the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, believing she was calling Santa Claus after seeing a promotion in a local newspaper. Before the misprint, only a four-star general at the Pentagon and Colonel himself had that number.
It was the 1950s, war time, when the Colonel’s phone rang. He answered it, expecting to hear that an air strike was happening and the US was under attack, but instead he heard a small voice say, “Is this Santa Clause?”
The Colonel was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the little girl that CONAD would guarantee Santa a safe journey from the North Pole. He “Ho-Ho-Ho’d” and asked if she had been a good little girl. He then assigned two airmen to sit by the phone and answer phone calls for Santa from other children.
The airmen had a big glass board with the United States on it, and when airplanes would come in they would track them. And Christmas Eve of 1955, when Colonel Shoup walked in, there was a drawing of a sleigh with eight reindeer coming over the North Pole… a joke from his airmen. The Colonel looked at it for a while, and then called the radio station saying, “This is the commander at the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object. Why, it looks like a sleigh!” After that, the radio stations would call him nearly every hour and say, ‘Where’s Santa now?’
Thus a tradition was born that rolled over to NORAD when it was formed in 1958. Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions across the globe.