In 1955 a newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colorado printed an ad from Sears Roebuck in which a number was given so that children could call and talk to Father Christmas.
Well, people are human after all, and Murphy does kind of hate us -- personally -- so it should come as no surprise that the newspaper kind of flubbed a bit on that number.
The first child to call the Jolly Old Elf wound up calling the hot-line at Continental Air Defence Command -- the predecessor to what is now North American Aerospace Defence Command, better known to most as NORAD.
Colonel Harry W. Shoup -- Director of Ops at CONAD -- took the call, and after figuring out just what the heck was going on, told the child that he was, indeed, St. Nicholas and reassured the bairn that he was on-schedule.
Well, since the phone number in the advert was bolloxed, that was only the first of many, many, calls from small children, anxious to talk to Kriss Kringle.
Colonel Shoup, bless his heart, arranged for his staff to give location updates on those eight tiny reindeer to each child who called.
And so, a tradition was born.
Staff at the original CONAD -- and later at NORAD -- enthusiastically embraced "Santa Tracking" and each year thereafter volunteers manned phone banks to keep children all over the world updated on the journey of Santa Claus on Christmas night.
Last year, the Santa Operations Centre answered over 90 thousand phone calls, ten thousand e-mails and their website received over 10 million visitors.
Merry Christmas, everyone.