On a recent tip to Bayshore mall I passed by Santa’s village only to realize he wasn’t there. I was too late to catch a glimpse of the action. Santa had closed shop for the day. I stopped for a moment to take in all the silver and blue glitter and décor. It made the area leading up to his big chair seem magical. I thought back to when my children believed in Santa, and how much fun it was to watch their reaction to him.
A wonderful moment was captured in Bel-Air Washington, when a mother waited in line with her baby girl. This was her first visit with Santa, but by the time it was her turn the baby was fast asleep. Not to disappoint Mom, the quick thinking Santa sprung to action and posed for the photo by taking a short winters nap himself! What an original picture! I thought…
I googled sleeping Santa and came across a similar story from 2012. This time it was an 8-month-old boy who fell asleep in the line-up to meet Santa. That Santa suggested the mother could get her child’s picture taken, he would simply pose with the sleeping baby. Seems like sleeping Santa’s have been around awhile!
Somewhere between my Bayshore visit and that general feeling of nostalgia I get for Santa Claus, I got to thinking. How has Santa changed in this age of Social Media?
When my kids were small we had their pictures taken with the mall Santa. As they got older, we explained there was more than one ‘helper’ Santa to help out everywhere he was needed for pictures. They bought that for a while. As they got older, they required more evidence of his existence. So we wrote him letters and they mailed them through Canada Post, being careful to include the HOH OHO postal code! The reply they received helped convince them to believe a little longer.
A few years later, when my brother’s children were still young, he told me about Norad’s website. They tracked Santa’s worldwide progress on Christmas Eve. My brother said it was a great way to get kids to bed early on the 24th.
I went on the hunt for Norad’s site this year. Seems more sophisticated than that early version I remember! http://www.noradsanta.org/
Naturally I went to google on my mission to explore Santa in 2014. The results of my search led to this nifty Santa Tracker and advent calendar https://santatracker.google.com/.
A rather elaborate Santa’s Village can be found here. It comes complete with Christmas inspired interactive games, to help fill the days leading up to the 24th. Even though the kids at my house no longer believe, I will be sure to follow the Santa tracker Christmas Eve! According to Google, you can tune in to “Santa’s Dashboard – featuring the latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and Sleigh engineering – will allow you to follow his progress around the world, and also learn a little about some of his stops along the way.” How cool is that ?
Social Santa. He must have a Facebook page. He did. Actually there isn’t just one Santa, but Santa Claus- Public Figure, was first up in my search with 302,628 likes. He actually lives in North Pole, Alaska, and his name is Santa Claus! https://www.facebook.com/TheSantaClaus
Further searches revealed Santa is savvy enough to have a Twitter handle – “Official Santa” got my attention. https://twitter.com/officialsanta
This UK based Santa uses his twitter account to promote his business – “Official Letter from Santa”. Regular posts from this “Official Santa” twitter feed, are used to sell Santa letters. I would be more inclined to engage with this ‘official Santa’ on twitter if they supported children’s charity with some of their proceeds, like the Santa I found on linkedIn.
A visit to Santa Claus’ linkedIn profile indicated he was fairly new to the platform. He acknowledges its benefits in finding employees (aka. Elves). I found his profile to be of a more charitable Santa as he clearly works to promote a children’s non-profit organization. https://www.linkedin.com/in/santaclausnspcc . A quick read of his summary revealed this – “Mrs Claus is always encouraging me to embrace technology to ease my workload – last year I installed a satnav on my sleigh, and now I’m trying LinkedIn. I usually advertise for elves in The Lapland Chronicle, but this year I’m embracing snow-cial media. “ He has 500+ connections, so I’m inclined to think his cause is noble!
Wikipedia appears to have the goods on Santa as well. A fairly thorough accounting of the origins of this character, and his aliases can be found here. If you were ever curious around the cultural influences for some of your traditions, it’s a good read. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Claus
It seems the stories we tell and the means we will go to keep Santa’s story alive, know no limits now. The magic and mystery surrounding Santa Claus will be kept alive for this generation of children thanks to social media!