The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 23, 2013

Santa militarized? Let's lighten up

By Budd McLaughlin


Reading about some “children's advocates”claiming that Santa is being“militarized” because he's escorted by Canadian and U.S. fighter jets while flying to deliver his toys to good girls and boys triggered a few emotions.

On Christmas Eve, before the advent of radar on television, we used to listen to radio reports of Santa flying in from the North Pole.

There was a radio on the counter in our kitchen and we would sit at the table, sipping hot chocolate and eating fresh-baked cookies that would be left for Santa.

If we were lucky, though, and it had snowed, we would enjoy homemade snow cream that Mom had made.

An announcer for the radio station — WDEL out of Wilmington, Del. — would break in to the programming (usually Christmas music, her favorites were Brenda Lee's “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock”) with updates. We lived across the Delaware River from Wilmington so when he said NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) radar showed Santa was approaching, we knew it was time to go to bed.

We didn't think anything about the fighter escort except it was like an honor guard for Santa.

And, by the way, regarding these so-called “advocates,” what children are they advocates for and who appointed them?

My kids have done quite well, thank you, and I believe so have millions of us over the years — before we realized we didn't have “advocates.”

Granted, there are situations where similar groups and associations are needed. Such as Child Advocacy Centers to care for child victims and church-based groups and nonprofit organizations for needy children.

But, come on. Lighten up a little.

Or I'll have to get my G.I. Joes and show you what militarized is really about.

Budd McLaughlin is managing editor of The News Courier.