1:52 PM EST, December 5, 2012
Santa Claus came to town in a military helicopter — which makes perfect sense for my grandson, considering who his father works for — and while Mikey was all fired up about Santa's form of transportation, he wanted no part of the big guy in red who disembarked.
(A very sensible response for a 2-year-old, allowed his grandfather, an overly cautious man himself.)
And so the next generation begins the campaign to get their kids to trust and invest in a benign figure who (spoiler alert!) does not exist, and to keep believing for as long as possible against mounting evidence to the contrary.
Turns out, there's an app for that.
And a bunch of websites, Facebook pages, Twitter handles and Skype calls to help parents reinforce the notion that Santa — and by turns, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy — is real and delivers toys to every little boy and girl on Christmas Eve.
The Santa in the mall just wasn't getting it done. And besides, the line is long, and it is hot in those dress-up Christmas outfits.
Parents can now arrange for the simplest form of communication with Santa — a personalized letter with a North Pole postmark. Although I thought we were supposed to be writing him.
Or they can go all out and schedule a Skype call from Santa at the North Pole, after paying $29.95 and providing a creepy amount of personal information about the child, including their name, age, pets, hobbies, naughty things and nice things they have done, their list of presents from last year and whether the house has a chimney.
(Parents are told in advance that Santa won't scold the child or talk about anything that might make him feel bad, so that leverage for good behavior is gone. And you might have to find a way to explain the accent, because some of these Santas live closer to Dublin than the North Pole.)
There is an application for your iPhone that can help you arrange a call from Santa, and his image pops up on your screen when he does.
Or you can arrange an online "chat" with Santa on a site called Portable North Pole, where you are asked to choose "nice child," "nice/naughty child," or "naughty child," and provide lots of details. Coming soon: "nice adult" and "naughty adult." I don't even want to go there.
I entered a couple of these chat sites, and it reminded me of those aphasic conversations you have online with a clerk at retail sites. Then things got kind of snarky and "Santa" admitted to me that he had been "created by bored.com."
You can also arrange an email to be send to your child from Santa asking what he or she wants for Christmas, and the list can be sent in a reply. You can also upload pictures of your home and Photoshop Santa into them.
There is more available to convince the skeptical child. For $29.99, you can buy online a Santa evidence kit, which includes a dropped glove and driver's license and materials for leaving a boot print in the house. Half-eaten cookies and missing carrots are so old school.
There are dozens of Facebook pages for Santa in every language and every country. One Santa has almost 100,000 followers on Twitter, and he gives regular weather and reindeer updates, but he also includes links to a website where you can order a personal letter from Santa.
But I saw that he was following singer Lady Gaga and boxer Floyd Mayweather on Twitter, and that kind of burst the bubble for me.
You and your child can also go to asksanta.pearl.com and ask him questions, such as why he wears red all the time and what does he do the rest of the year. The website normally provides experts in hundreds of fields to answer consumer questions, so it makes sense that they'd book Santa up to explain how he gets all the toys in the sleigh and what Mrs. Claus' first name is.
But the site is giving $1 for every question, up to $20,000, to research into juvenile diabetes, so it is by far the most altruistic of these enterprises.
What is the point of all of this? Well, there is money to be made off the dreams of children, to be sure, and these are just examples of Internet entrepreneurship.
Plus, the parents of children who learn early that you can Google the truth of anything need some backup.
It is no surprise, I guess, that I favor the old-fashioned letter to Santa, asking for a doll, a tea set and a little gold ring, and addressed to the North Pole.
But I fear that in order to go back to that form of communicating with Santa Claus, we might need another "Miracle on 34th Street."
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