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Some silly thoughts pass through my mind as I'm driving to work in the morning. This morning, I found myself thinking of Santa Claus and the problems he might face in the 21st century – especially since kids could leave their webcams on in an attempt to catch him in the act and prove that he really does exist. What would you do if your kids said to you, "Daddy, can you leave the webcam on so we can see Santa when he comes?"

Now, I should say that I have two adorable nieces (my wife's sister's daughters) who are ages four and two. The oldest one has just reached the age where she knows about Santa and his yearly visits, and she has been mesmerized by all of the Rankin-Bass Christmas TV specials as they've aired on TV this year. She can barely contain her excitement about Christmas and the presents she's going to get. So this morning, I got to thinking: What if we got Mommy and Daddy to turn on the webcam and record Santa's visit for the girls?

Unfortunately, my sister-in-law isn't enough of a Net geek to even have a webcam; and if I offered to let her borrow mine, she'd most likely refuse because she knows very little about it. So alas, we won't have the opportunity to record Santa's visit this year. But even so, I thought about ways to make this happen as I drove to work this morning. So here's my suggestion to you: maybe YOU could surprise your kids by recording Santa on your webcam.

Here's what to do: First, you'll need a Santa suit (or a relative wearing a Santa suit), a webcam, and a recording program. Set up the cam at an angle so that it can capture most of the view of your living room and Christmas tree – but not the entire room, so that there are still areas where people could sneak around without being caught on camera.

Place the kids' gifts in a couple of sacks (pillowcases and laundry bags should suffice). You may want to ensure that the kids sleep through this little show, so be sure to give them turkey sandwiches and maybe a sip of wine (if you agree with the idea of kids having a special sip of wine on Christmas), to ensure they fall fast asleep. Set up and test the webcam, and show the kids that you're going to sneak a picture of Santa for them.

Wait until the appropriate time – it doesn't have to be too late in the evening; maybe an hour or so after the kids are asleep. And when the time comes, you get to put on a show for them. You can record Santa sneaking into the house (through the front door, that is – after all, he has a special golden skeleton key that can open any lock), bringing his sack to the Christmas tree, and unloading it. (He may have to take two or three trips, if you're the type of family who lavishes your kids with tons of presents at Christmas!) Of course, since Santa loves his work, he will be jolly and happy as he unloads his pack. Then, just as he is ready to leave, Santa can suddenly notice the webcam and come take a close look at it…and laugh with delight, realizing that he is on camera. Finally, in a move that will really blow your kids' minds, Santa would then take a couple of candy canes out of his coat, show them to the camera, and sneak off-camera towards the kids' rooms. After a minute or so, he comes back in sight of the camera, waves happily, and exits out the front door.

When the kids wake up the next morning, they would find candy canes under their pillows. And when you play back the webcam and they see Santa in their own living room, they should be excited and joyful in a way that you yourself will remember for the rest of your life. :)

And be sure to upload the video to YouTube!

(A repost of an old Usenet message from eight years ago…)