Tuesday Open Thread | Two Wonderful Christmas Stories

I know it’s the day after Christmas, but I loved these Christmas stories.

Hat tip-Balloon Juice

Col. Harry Shoup came to be known as the “Santa Colonel.” He died in 2009.

NORAD’s Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport
December 19, 20144:02 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition

This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup’s secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Shoup’s children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

Terri remembers her dad had two phones on his desk, including a red one. “Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number,” she says.

“This was the ’50s, this was the Cold War, and he would have been the first one to know if there was an attack on the United States,” Rick says.

The red phone rang one day in December 1955, and Shoup answered it, Pam says. “And then there was a small voice that just asked, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’ ”

His children remember Shoup as straight-laced and disciplined, and he was annoyed and upset by the call and thought it was a joke — but then, Terri says, the little voice started crying.

“And Dad realized that it wasn’t a joke,” her sister says. “So he talked to him, ho-ho-ho’d and asked if he had been a good boy and, ‘May I talk to your mother?’ And the mother got on and said, ‘You haven’t seen the paper yet? There’s a phone number to call Santa. It’s in the Sears ad.’ Dad looked it up, and there it was, his red phone number. And they had children calling one after another, so he put a couple of airmen on the phones to act like Santa Claus.”
“It got to be a big joke at the command center. You know, ‘The old man’s really flipped his lid this time. We’re answering Santa calls,’ ” Terri says.

“The airmen had this big glass board with the United States on it and Canada, and when airplanes would come in they would track them,” Pam says.

“And Christmas Eve of 1955, when Dad walked in, there was a drawing of a sleigh with eight reindeer coming over the North Pole,” Rick says.

“Dad said, ‘What is that?’ They say, ‘Colonel, we’re sorry. We were just making a joke. Do you want us to take that down?’ Dad looked at it for a while, and next thing you know, Dad had called the radio station and had said, ‘This is the commander at the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object. Why, it looks like a sleigh.’ Well, the radio stations would call him like every hour and say, ‘Where’s Santa now?’ ” Terri says.

“And later in life he got letters from all over the world, people saying, ‘Thank you, Colonel,’ for having, you know, this sense of humor. And in his 90s, he would carry those letters around with him in a briefcase that had a lock on it like it was top-secret information,” she says. “You know, he was an important guy, but this is the thing he’s known for.”

“Yeah,” Rick says, “it’s probably the thing he was proudest of, too.”


From Lamh, a NOLA native:

This man has been Santa for GENERATIONs of kids and there parents here in NOLA. Watching Miracle on 34th St the other day and saw the scene where the little Dutch girl was brought to meet Santa but her adoptive mother didn’t think Santa would be able to understand her…when Santa began speaking Dutch to the young girl, she smiled wide and held a nice conversation with Santa…to folks being idiots about this…don’t you think the little Black kids seeing the Black faceif Santa don’t feel the same as the little Dutch girl from the movie? Representation matters!

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29 Responses to Tuesday Open Thread | Two Wonderful Christmas Stories

  1. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Video: “Kwanzaa Celebration Morgan State University 2017.”

  2. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    “Annual Founder’s Kwanzaa Message–2017 ‘Practicing the Principles of Kwanzaa: Repair, Renewing and Remaking Our World”
    by Dr. Maulana Karenga

    “Our ancestors taught that we damage the world and all in it not only by what we do wrong, but also by what we fail to do right. And this injuring and wounding of the world and all in it, requires that we constantly repair, renew and remake the world, i.e., serudj ta, making it more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it. Indeed, our ancestors posed this process as an ongoing moral, social and environmental obligation and practice. It is, they taught, an ethical imperative: to raise up that which is in ruins; to repair that which is damaged; to rejoin that which is separated; to replenish that which is lacking; to strengthen that which is weakened; to set right that which is wrong; and to make flourish that which is insecure and undeveloped.”

    “… And how do each and all of us participate in building the good community, society and world we all want and deserve to live in? And again, the solution Kwanzaa offers is serious and sustained practice of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles: Umoja (Unity); Kujichagulia (Self-Determination); Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility); Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics); Nia (Purpose); Kuumba (Creativity); and Imani (Faith).

  3. Thank you all so much for this and for all that you post and share and create all year long. You make the world better, you bring strength and humor and knowledge and joy. Hope all you do blesses you right back all through 2018.

  4. rikyrah says:

    The temp here is 0.
    I just didn’t feel like putting on my Eskimo coat – it’s so heavy, so I just doubled up the scarves and hats.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Good morning, Everyone 😄😄😄

  6. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Good Morning, Rikyrah.

    Thanks for posting the two super stories!

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