The government shutdown means many government workers are without pay for the holidays and that the Violence Against Women Act is expired. But NORAD’s still tracking Santa, and Melania Trump’s still down to help for a few minutes or so.
According to a tweet by NORAD, there will be over a thousand people on hand in Colorado to report Santa’s progress and field calls from kids all hopped up on Christmas:
Last year, Donald and Melania took a combined total of fifteen calls from Mar-a-Logo, and this year Mrs. Trump says she’ll be taking them again if you wanted a bit of a chat.
The Santa tracking tradition dates back to the Cold War, according to Politico, and began when Sears accidentally gave out the private number for Col. Harry Shoup’s secret line at Peterson Air Force in Colorado instead of the number for the store.
Now, thousands of volunteers gather on Christmas Eve to take calls and answer emails from around the world. There’s even a training handbook for fielding tricky questions skeptical children about the existence of Santa.
However, the program, which Politico calls “the Pentagon’s most elaborate propaganda operation” is also a little bit creepy and weird:
The Pentagon program, however, has not been without controversy. Several years ago an animated video posted on NORAD’s website as part of the effort may have gone a little too far. It depicted Santa, his reindeer and their bursting sack of gifts escorted by fighter jets — as if they might be threatened by more than just the Grinch.
It may seem like overkill, but those fighter jets will come in handy once that war on Christmas truly kicks into gear.