The North American Aerospace Defense Command, a.k.a. NORAD, has been tracking Santa's journey across the globe with its Track Santa program since the mid-1950s. Cute, right? Used to be. But this year marks another goodbye to childhood innocence, because the Grinches at Norad's decided to give the program more of an operational feel. What the heck does that mean? If the numbers of visitors to last year's NORAD site is any indication, over 22 million people, including lots of little kids, will see Santa's sleigh flying through the night skies again, but this year he'll be escorted by two ominous looking fighter jets. According to NORAD, these sky warriors are there to keep Santa from straying into restricted air space and, get this, to protect him from threats. In addition to tracking the flight, visitors to www.noradsanta.org can be comforted by the news that Jack Frost and the Abominable Snowman pose no clear and present danger to the "Big Red One." Come on, space boys! As if our little kids don't have enough to worry about without suggesting that jolly old St. Nick might be in harm's way! According to the website of the Massachusetts General Hospital, anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health conditions in children and adolescents, with Generalized Anxiety Disorders affecting from 3-4 percent of children. Any kindergarten teacher in America will tell you that he or she has more kids freaked out by more things than ever before, and that addressing mental health issues in schools has risen to the top of their education agenda.
So why can't Santa just cruise through the night skies with no enemies lurking in the dark recesses of the universe? Why should kids have worry that Santa might be vaporized by unseen foes? Santa in need of protection? What color alert is that? Should we duck and cover? Put out cyanide tablets for him with the milk and cookies just in case the enemy catches up with him? Should we tell our kids not ask Santa to bring us something for fear of putting him in the crosshairs of some nefarious, unnamed enemy? Come on, NORAD. Stand Down and let the old man get on with his business of making millions of kids around the world happy, if only for just one night.
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