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See Santa fly! Fly, Santa, fly!

He knows when you’ve been sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. Return the favor. This Christmas Eve you, yourself, personally, can use the Internet to watch every move Santa Claus makes. Military satellites, using the “global Santa positioning” infrared technology of NORAD (no doubt closely related to NORAD’s missile-launch warning systems, made famous by the great 1980s movie “War Games” ), will be using the heat generated by Rudolph’s nose to plot Santa’s trajectory across the planet.

Why is NORAD concerning itself with Santa’s doings? It seems NORAD’s precursor was hauled into the Santa-tracking business in 1955, after a local newspaper printed an incorrect phone number for a Santa “hotline” that turned out to be the NORAD operations number. After receiving a goodly number of calls from children wanting to know where Santa was, it decided to carefully check its Northern radar for possible contact with any unknown objects. Sure enough, several strange objects (probably Santa and his reindeer) were detected leaving the North Pole . The rest is history. Tracking starts early on the morning of December 24th.

Anxious kids may also want to check out the weather Santa’s dealing with at ground level. Closer to home, the Weather Channel’s White Christmas Historical Probability map can tell you the odds on waking up to snow outside your own window this Christmas morning.

Light up your life

No matter how much time you spent slinging lights up in the front yard this year, whoever lives in this house in Tennessee has you beat. Whether they’ve outdone you in artistry or just in obsessive-compulsive pathology is in the eye of the beholder. Planet Christmas offers up one extremely dedicated Christmas-lights masterpiece. Here’s another Tennessee dream, and here’s a strong Missouri contender (check out the poinsettias). I suspect this must be one of those vibrant, creative subcultures of which sheltered, provincial Manhattan types like me have nary an inkling, alas; fortunately for us, of course, that’s what the Web is for.

Feeling competitive? The New York Institute of Photography offers professional tips on the best ways to photograph Christmas displays, lit-up trees, candlelight, and so forth.

Adeste Fido-lis

Dogs like Christmas, too. A Canine Christmas can help make it a happier holiday for you and your dogs with special safety tips, recipes for healthy Christmas biscuits for your dogs, doggy gift suggestions, and lots more. Doggy Carols and Canine Carols both contain funny, dog-enhanced lyrics to Christmas classics. The Singing Cats, Dogs, and Pigs Site has QuickTime movies and .wav sound files featuring all three of the titular warbling beasts (odd, I know).

On a more sober note, a Christmas puppy (or kitten) under the tree for the kids — however irresistibly cute a Kodak moment in your mind’s eye — is a bad idea for several reasons . The Christmas-morning atmosphere can frighten the puppy and confuse children about the difference between an animal and a toy. Animal rescue organizations are swamped yearly by ill considered four-legged “Christmas presents” who didn’t work out . So please reconsider carefully if you’ve got one planned. The pet-friendly alternative is to put lots of nicely wrapped dog books and accessories under the tree, given with a promise that the family will adopt a puppy or adult dog who needs a home after the holiday madness is over.

Reindeer games

In Rudolph’s Revenge , you get to be Rudolph, firing icicles at “all of the other reindeer” that “used to laugh and call him names.” It’s payback time, boys. If you’re in more of a peace-on-earth, good-will-to-all-men sort of mood, you might prefer to spend a little quiet time at this site decorating your own online Christmas tree. Both games require Shockwave.

Christmas screen savers are free for the downloading all over the Internet. In this attractive screen saver by Jeff Newman, a busy artist’s hand creates a Rockwellian image of Santa on your screen. Several pretty good screen savers are here (click on “freeware”), including “The Dodo Advent Spleen Saver,” a snowball fight game, and something called “I Have No Mouth And I Must Eat Mince Pies” (hmmm, must be Harlan Ellison fans … on second thoughts, maybe y’all should exercise caution with this bunch). Looking for Christmas wallpaper for your PC? Click here or here . Or browse this festive cornucopia for more free Christmas computer goodies than you could ever possibly desire.

Fed up with the whole thing?

On Thursday, Christmas Eve at Kvetch! , the ever-grumpy real-time chat will be focusing on the holiday blues. Complain here, early and often. Even now the cris de coeur of fellow sufferers who range in tone from volcanic to plaintive (“standing in lines and listening to Mannheim Steamroller again and again and again”) are percolating across its Grinch-colored screen. Plus, Kvetch!’s super fabulous site design (seriously, I’m very impressed) is likely to aggravate your irritation in a most satisfying manner.

If you haven’t quite attained full-blown curmudgeon status but are nevertheless in the mood for a little harmless subversion, check out the Reindeer Liberation Front , a self-styled band of committed freedom fighters dedicated to the liberation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and all his furry companions from the oppressive yoke of Santa Claus.

If you just really, really hate all things Christmassy, click here to put a little raw anarchy in your season.

Feeling better? Good. Now all you moaners and groaners who just clicked on the above three sites had better click here , drop a little trifling cash (less than $4, and well worth it) on the result, and begin the long climb toward spiritual recovery. Remember, the first thing you have to do is admit that you have a problem.

Merry Christmas, all.

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