Be kind: You may end up starting a Christmas tradition


Dr. Clay Perkins


By Clay Perkins

Monday, December 24, 2018

“Be kind and compassionate to one another….” — Ephesians 4:32 a (The Bible, New International Version)

Some Christmas traditions are started totally by accident by people with a good heart. Harry Shoup was a man with a good heart. Little did he know that his quick-thinking response would start a long-standing Christmas tradition.

It was Christmas Eve 1955, during the Cold War, and Shoup found himself at work, away from his wife and children celebrating the holiday. His work desk had two phones on it. One was red, its number available only to four-star generals and the like. Everyone prayed that phone would not ring. For if that phone rang, the world would not know peace. It was the secret hotline to the Continental Air Defense Command. But that night, the red phone rang. Immediately Col. Harry Shoup answered the phone.

A small voice asked, “Is this Santa Claus? I want a red bicycle and a red sleigh.” Shoup and the caller bantered back and forth, but only for a moment. Col. Shoup had no reputation for tolerating practical jokes. He was known to be a straight-laced military officer. But perhaps he thought about his three children at home and realized this was a little boy simply wanting to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas the next day. This was no practical joke. The kindness in his heart kicked in. Those around him heard his best Santa laugh, as they looked on in bewilderment. And after asking the boy if he had indeed been a good boy this year, he asked to speak to the little boy’s mother.

The mother explained that they had called the number in the Sears’ ad that encouraged children to call Santa and speak with him on his private phone any time day or night. The number listed in the ad in Colorado Springs, Colorado, contained a simple typo — a typo that gave out the private number to a very important red phone.

Calls continued to come in that night on the red phone on Col. Shoup’s desk, sorry, I mean Santa Claus’ desk. One by one, he listened to every Christmas toy wish. One by one, he asked each and every child if they had been a good little boy or girl. While pretending to be Santa Claus to the children, Col. Shoup called the local radio station and told them, “This is the commander at the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object on our radar. It looks like a sleigh.” The radio station disc jockey, too, had a kind heart, and called back every hour on the hour to ask, “Where’s Santa now?”

So now, you and I have a Christmas tradition. Every year you can go to https://www.noradsanta.org/, which is NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and track Santa. The U.S. Air Force tracks Santa from the North Pole for boys and girls all over the world. And it all started with a kind man responding to a simple mistake during some trying times.

So be kind. Even if you have a tough job during difficult times. You never know, if by accident, you will be starting a new Christmas tradition.

Stay focused.

Dr. Clay Perkins is an adjunct professor at Mid-Atlantic Christian University. The opinions expressed in this column belong to the author and may not be those of the university.