I know, I know, I am such a Grinch for not pretending, even for a few weeks, that big tubby man in a red coat is the one who got me my pirate ship as a kid. I’m sure when I have kids I’ll pretend along and do the whole Santa thing, but right now it I’m just a little taken aback at how far parents will go to keep the illusion of Santa alive.
Apparently this year Skype is taking parents’ money to schedule a Skype call with Santa:
…rather than waiting for hours in long lines at the mall, today’s kids can now chat one-on-one with Santa with live video chats via Skype. For a fee, your kids can meet Santa in his workshop without driving to the mall or sending a paper letter, and tell him everything they want for Christmas – for about three minutes.
Skype Me Santa, a company based in Colorado, provides video call, a recording, and a follow up email with your darlings for just under $30. The first step is to book an appointment, which can fill up fast. The company asks for a half hour window, so a set time is not always possible. After your appointment is booked, Skype Me Santa will send a questionnaire to parents, asking about your children’s favorite classes or hobbies, what they may want for Christmas, or anything else you’d like him to discuss with your kids that is cheery or happy.
When the appointed time comes, kids will hear the ring-ring of Skype, and be face-to-face with one of their Santas in his workshop. For around 15 minutes, Santa will talk about your child’s favorite things and personal effects that they will swear only Santa could know. After they are delighted with the magic of Christmas, they can relive it with a link to a webpage with a personal note from Santa, as well as a video of the interaction.
Services like Skype Me Santa are perfect for families in remote areas, or those who just don’t have the time or desire to patronize the tired mall Santas.
It’s not an entirely new idea; I’ve known about NORAD tracking Santa; they’ve been doing it for decades, it’s only recently they set up a website to help kids follow Santa’s progress. (The story I heard is a kid called the NORAD center back in the 1960s and asked if they saw Santa on their radars anywhere. The grown-up who answered the phone took pity on the kid and told him yes, they were tracking him somewhere over the Atlantic, and the tradition was born).
I can see the benefits of this service; yes, it’s cute, it’s no worse than a personalized book that a parent may purchase for their kids. I know in Scandinavian countries they’ll pick an older gentleman who knows all of the small children to play Santa, and so in that way he’s got the goods on all the kiddos and if they’ve been naughty or nice. In our growing, mobile, technologically integrated world, slipping a few tips to Santa isn’t that far off. It still just seems icky to me.