Cyber Santa: Today's North Pole communications are high-tech
By Kellie B. Gormly
Published: Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, 9:20 p.m.
Children today have more opportunities, often high-tech, to communicate with Santa Claus than their parents did.
• Kids can email their requests to the North Pole at www.emailsanta.com. Santa will even take the time to shoot back an email between stops on Christmas Eve.
• They can get personalized, mailed letters from Santa from www.sealedbysanta.com.
• And, they can even get a personalized video from the big guy in red at www.northpolevideos.com.
Children still write the traditional letters to the North Pole, and sit on Santa's lap at the mall, but technology is making the jolly old elf more accessible to kids.
“It keeps the magic going,” says Sarah Blain of Boca Raton, Fla., owner of Sealed by Santa, and the new NorthPoleVideos.com. “I wish this were around when we were kids.
“Even though technology is taking over ... people still love the letters, too,” Blain says. “Either way, it's just about the magic of the season.”
To get the $10.95 Sealed by Santa letters, parents or guardians fill out an online form with a child's wish list. The child gets a personalized, mailed reply from Santa on parchment paper, with a red Santa wax seal and a Sealed by Santa or North Pole postmark.
The downloadable, online North Pole Videos — free for 48 hours, and $3.99 for a 10-video, yearlong subscription — speak to the children not only to psyche them up for Christmas, but to kindly warn them about bad behavior that could get them on the naughty list (“No fighting with your sister,” for instance.)
Parents are using the videos as leverage for good behavior, Blain says. If Santa tells kids to get to bed on time, and toys are at risk, who are they to argue?
Pearl.com — where professionals like doctors and lawyers answer questions for a fee — offers a free “Ask Santa” service at www.asksanta.pearl.com. Kids can send Santa a question through the website and get personalized answers. Some answers are listed for the most common questions, such as “How old are you?” Answer: “I stopped counting around 73.”
Other questions: What kind of cookies do you like? (Answer: “Santa likes all kinds, and he shares them with the elves and reindeer”), and What is Mrs. Claus' name? (Answer: “I don't remember. I've called her Mrs. Claus for so long.”) Pearl.com donates $1 for every question asked to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Some answers are intentionally vague, says Leslie Tyler, vice president of marketing for Pearl.com. Because, really, how can you explain how Santa gets into a home without a chimney?
“That's part of the magic,” she says. “Part of the mystery is how it all works magically.”
When Tyler was a child, “writing letters to the North Pole was something almost everyone I knew did,” she says. Now there are “more opportunities to tap into the magic of Santa. It's more fun.”
Although electronic communications help keep the magic of Santa alive for kids, inevitably they start to doubt Santa's existence as they grow up. Kevin O'Malley, a Robinson attorney and author, has written a book about Santa that he hopes will answer some of children's doubts and questions about Santa.
In “Midnight on Christmas Eve,” O'Malley presents his theory about how Santa makes the seemingly impossible trip around the world, delivering gifts to all the world's children, in a single night. Santa, who is exhausted from years of racing against the clock to meet the needs of a growing population, petitions Father Time for help. Santa then can channel the mystery of midnight — neither yesterday nor tomorrow — and suspend and reset time with a pocket watch as he delivers gifts.
O'Malley, a father of two, says he hopes his book will lay to rest young children's doubts. And the modern ways Santa is communicating also enhances kids' belief and sense of curiosity, he says.
“Santa Claus is this mysterious person,” he says. Kids, he says, are seeking answers. “There's something about Santa. You love to believe in Santa Claus. He's such a wonderful person.
“It's so magical, it's so neat,” O'Malley says. “How does he do it? ... They want to believe.”
Rebecca Harvey, assistant professor and program director for marriage and family therapy at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, says that a child's belief in Santa Claus brings delight and magic for kids and adults, and communication with Santa makes it seem more real.
“I think all families want their children to have some sense of magic and gaiety and mystery and ‘Wow,' ” says Harvey, who does consulting with day cares about parenting issues with young children.
Harvey has a 4-year-old daughter, Sophia. “There are a lot of things we don't understand. I think that kind of awe and wonder is good for kids. It helps them be curious and helps them stay interested.”
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