The Big Red One

NORAD is a branch of the US and Canadian military that protects the North American skies with supersonic jets and sophisticated radar systems. On Christmas Eve day, top brass of this agency announced on TV that they were guarding Santa's mission as he traversed skies the world over. A tradition since 1958, a top General reassured children via mass media that Santa Claus was spotted over the Maldives, soon to cruise over India. If one knows global time zones, this means that he would be in Southern California right after midnight in the wee hours of December 25th. His mission will have been completed thanks to the protection of the United States military.

As one of the news commentators remarked, "It's kind of sad that Santa Claus needs to have jets scrambled for his safety."

The General, apparently up to date on Dr. Seuss and Hollywood blockbusters, retorted, "We want to make sure that the Grinch doesn't get him." (A nod to The Grinch that Stole Christmas in all media.)

AT&T commercials used to bring tears to my eyes as they depicted moms and daughters kvelning over each other at Christmas time, albeit over long distance phone lines; in recent years cynicism has replaced sentimentality. But on Christmas Eve day, when the five star commander in battle fatigues assured any young'uns watching that Santa Claus was safely traveling the globe to deliver goodies, a chill did run up and down my spine.

It's rare to encounter a military man of such rank talking with childlike innocence and earnest goodwill to wee ones glued to the television. That the message of the military could always be so sweet...


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