My 3-year-old is a bookworm, leaving me constantly on the hunt for great children’s picture books. My favorite ones, of course, are those that lend our military life a sense of normality. If it’s in a book with fun drawings, it must be OK, right?
And so when I saw the new book “The Night Santa Got Lost; How NORAD Saved Christmas,” I knew this was a book we would love. The yearly NORAD tradition of tracking Santa, which started when a Sear’s advertisement mistakenly published the number for NORAD to children wishing to call Santa Claus, is one of my favorites. If the folks in charge of watching for missiles headed towards the US can get in the spirit, then anyone can.
This fun, colorfully illustrated picture book is written in the form of “The Night Before Christmas.” When Santa heads out in a major storm to deliver gifts and falls off the radar, the good servicemembers of NORAD are on the case and send out a rescue mission to find and recover Santa and all his reindeer. But the lost time thanks to the accident means Santa won’t have time left to get the gifts to all the boys and girls. So the military offers to deliver them – even using SEAL and Special Forces teams to get the job done in countries not friendly to American presence.
For the parent reading this story out loud, the message throughout is that America (with Canada's amicable help) is the only possible solution to Santa’s problem, and, by extension, all problems in the world. Add that to a jab or two at current political issues (such as a statement that the loss of Santa is “worse than the national debt!”) and you might feel this book went from being sweet to a little too political, especially if you lean to the left. Also: there are no Coasties in this book.
Fortunately kids don’t notice that stuff – nor should they. (Although it's definitely possible that they'll notice the Coastie oversight). Kids notice stuff like the guy who wears a uniform like their Daddy is helping Santa deliver gifts. Kids notice that their mommy is a hero – because she’s helping Santa.
Christmas, after all, is for children, and in this case, it’s for military kids. This book helps make that possible. (Unless you're a Coastie. Remember: I'm just the messenger!)