Received a tip from Gini, another one of my good friends who is trained to spot interesting Christmas happenings and forward them to me. Last year, two enterprising Michigan (Gini’s from Michigan, so maybe there is a little bias) men installed a webcam on their property and created the website reindeercam.com , Santa’s official reindeer live feed, so that children around the world could watch the reindeer all day and see Santa feed the animals at 11 a.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Meanwhile, in the background of their festively decorated pen, there is a ticker tape listing all of the young people who have written to Santa and reported that they have been “nice” all year long.
There is an app available for download ($1.99) so you can check in at any time.
The list of nice children is difficult to read and is a little blurry, but I imagine if you time it right, showing your children Santa feeding his reindeer is a big hit. I have opened the app three or four times, but so far, I’ve only been treated to reindeer eating. Not too thrilling. Looking forward to a glimpse of Santa.
The FAQ’s indicate that there are three ways to be included in the “nice” list, one of which is to donate to the reindeer feed. There’s an address so children can write to Santa and get their names on the “nice” list. There is a Facebook page, and on the website comments, both positive and negative, continually feed down the right side.
Started in 2011, the website received millions of visitors, and they’re back again this year.
Jeremy noted the traditions that came from the Old World to America and influenced our modern understanding of Santa Claus and his darker helpers. Clement Clarke Moore is considered the author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” published anonymously in 1923. This is the beloved poem that many of us can recite from memory that we now call “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
It’s significant that the author, a wealthy minister and New Yorker published the poem anonymously and did not claim authorship until 1938. In his book Author Unknown (published 2000), English professor and forensic linguist Donald Foster made the case that the poem was authored by Henry Livingston, Jr. Descendants of Henry Livingston, Jr., a gentleman poet of Dutch decent who lived in Poughkeepsie, NY, claim the poem for their ancestor, but its author was already dead when Moore took credit. Those relatives solicited Foster’s help because Foster has a reputation for being a literary sleuth. Early in his career, Foster identified a previously unknown poem as Shakespeare’s, and, even though that claim has since been refuted, Foster has been involved in other, more recent literary puzzles, including in 1996 helping to solve the mystery of the anonymous author of the political best-seller Primary Colors.
The argument about Livingston’s authorship is convincing and detailed. I have included links to two documents supporting the Livingston authorship. A lot of the discussion has to do with the origins of the names of two of the reindeer, Donner and Blitzen (which mean Thunder and Lightening in German). The original spellings were Dunder and Blixsem. Here are two links that explain Livington’s claims and the names of the reindeer. When I sing the song, I have incorrectly said Donder, and now I know why. The updated 1837 published version of the Moore/Livingston poem uses the spelling Donder while the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” poem updates the name to Donner.