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MONDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Technology makes Santa more marvelous than ever

A few technological generations ago, Mrs. Santa Claus delighted children in a small Alabama town every year by dialing them up on the telephone, chatting about their parents, siblings and friends and, of course, what they wanted for Christmas.

Mrs. Claus sounded a lot like a certain kindly middle-aged woman who knew these children and their families personally.

These days, Santa himself is making calls, arranged long-distance through small Internet companies such as Santa Calls Kids and Santa Speaking.

When well-briefed by the parents (and probably some grandparents) who pay for these services, Santa knows personal details about family, prior Christmases, special wants and needs, and at which grandparent's house a child will sleep on Christmas Eve. Santa, unseen by the children, could be a young man, able to talk in more detail about current cartoons, video games and sports than your average old guy in a mall.

These calls thrill some children who are too shy to approach Santa in person, The New York Times reports. Sometimes the calls reinforce a child's wavering belief in Santa.

Thus does technology — the telephone with help from the Internet — reinforce traditions as well as alter them. In a sense, it makes Santa even more marvelous by expanding his ability to do so much, be in so many places at the same time and, most important, do good. Santa remains far ahead of the rest of us in these respects, but maybe technology will help us narrow the gap.

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