The Magic Cliff

It is a late fall night. Feels like midnight, but it’s only 5:15 pm. We, my sons and I, are making our way home.

I’m mentally preoccupied with dinner. The boys are discussing a download...a video game, I think? The guy on the radio is daring to dangle off the impending fiscal cliff.

“Mom, I have a problem.” Will’s words cut like crystal through a sea of extraneous chatter. I turn the radio off. This sounds serious.

“What’s wrong Will?” I ask.

“I don’t believe in Santa,” he says.

I am ready for “So and so says there’s no Santa,” or “Mom is there a Santa?” 
But: I don’t believe in Santa. It’s clear he’s mulled the facts and arrived at an outcome. 

Lucky, for me, John the older brother chimes in.

“What do you mean? Of course there’s a Santa!” he says.

“Really John?” Will replies. “A guy flies around in a sleigh with reindeer and drops presents into chimneys? And he makes it to every kids’ house in the entire world in one night?!”

“I don’t believe in that part either. I think it’s a real guy who flies around in a plane and there’s a system for shooting packages down the chimneys,” John says. 

He is backing off from his firm resolve but resolute nonetheless.

“You think someone applies for the job of Santa?” asks Will. 

“Yes, the guy who gets the job has skills,” says John. He says the word skills like he’s talking about a basketball game.

“Who would want that job?” Will asks.

Um...that would be your brother, I want to say. But, John beats me to it.

“Will, you’re just going to have to deal with it, there is magic in the world!”

“He’s right,” I say. You’re both right, I want to say.

It’s clear we are, once again, dangling off our own magic cliff. The gig’s just about up. I think John already knows. I also think he’ll make an excellent Santa someday. And Will, well, he'll eventually be satisfied to have his hunch verified. He’s a realism kind of guy. 
Still it can’t hurt to keep it going for just a little longer. Until I’m sure they have the find the real magic. 


  1. Oh my gosh, their personalities are so precious! I think this is my new favorite line to use on the cynics in my house: "You're just going to have to deal with it, there IS magic in the world!"

  2. Mine too...gave me hope that even when the "gig is up" he'll still believe...

  3. "jig is up" i enjoy your stories Holly .


  4. Dysfunctional Veterans shared a link.

    36 minutes ago.

    A letter to the Stars and Stripes

    I am 8 years old, and I just moved from Fort Sill, Okla., to Fort Eustis, Va. I am worried that Santa might not know where to bring my Christmas presents. The kids at my new school make fun of me. They say there is no Santa Claus. My dad said, “If you see it in Stars and Stripes, it better be true.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus, and how will he know where to find me?

    — V.O.

    NORAD responds;

    Yes, little Virginia resident, there is a Santa Claus. I have it on good authority, namely the North American Aerospace Defense Command, operated jointly by the United States and Canada. NORAD knows Santa Claus is out there, because the military operation tracks his Christmas Eve journey every year from their headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

    The military monitors the jolly old elf’s progress around the globe and reports that progress via media, at and the hotline at 1-877-HI-NORAD.

    To answer your questions, I talked to one of NORAD’s Santa trackers, Lt. Alain Blondin, of the Royal Canadian Navy. He said high-tech military know-how lets NORAD pinpoint Santa’s location, but Santa’s methods for tracking military kids when they move remain a secret.

    “Think of it as Santa’s OPSEC,” said Blondin. “That is part of Santa’s own magic. What we do is track Santa Claus. Where he gathers his intelligence and the details of his mission, we’re not privy to that. We’re just there to help the boys and girls all over the world to know where he is on Christmas Eve, and we’re able to get that because of our equipment.”

    NORAD brings considerable military capability to the task, including infrared tracking satellites, land-based radar, as well as radar on ships and aircraft. With these tools NORAD is able to track Santa as he travels the globe, Blondin said.

    The military Santa-tracking operation began back in the 1950s. Methods and equipment have improved quite a bit since then.

    “The biggest difference are the infrared tracking satellites,” Blondin said. “These are used on our regular missions to identify the bloom of a missile that is taking off. That technology is what we use to track Rudolph’s nose. That’s how we can track Santa no matter where he is.”

    In the early years, Santa’s progress was reported only to hotline callers. Then television and radio stations began reporting on this unusual military operation. In 1997, NORAD added a website,

    Your skeptical friends at school might be surprised to know that more and more people around the world follow Santa every year. Blondin said last year on Christmas Eve, the website had 18.9 million hits and the hotline received 102,000 phone calls.

    “It’s snowballing,” Blondin said. “The growth is exponential.”

    He said phone calls come in from places such as New Zealand, Australia, all over Europe and Asia, as well as from North America.

    The military gets help from companies, who donate all kinds of electronic services, and from more than a thousand volunteers who answer the phones. Every phone call is answered in person — no recordings or computers.

    The hotline is available during the 24-hour tracking period, which begins at 5 a.m. CST on Dec. 24. The website monitors Santa’s progress during the same period.

    Throughout December, the website offers other attractions — in eight languages. Online visitors can play games, watch videos contributed by Santa believers around the world and get answers to frequently asked questions about NORAD and Santa Claus.

    Some questions, such as how Santa finds you when you move, can only be answered by Santa himself. Blondin said he’s not sure how, but Santa always seems to know.

    “Probably the same way he finds out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice,” he said. “Regardless of the letters he gets, he knows the truth.”

    So tell the kids at your new school they’d better be nice.

    Official NORAD Santa Tracker

    Follow Santa as he makes his magical journey