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Bruce Auster's mother, Sylvia, holds him and his brother, Gordon, in an old family photograph. Her sons have only a few photographs of her from the years before she got sick with cancer; the audiotape helped bring back memories of her. Beth Rooney for NPR hide caption

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Beth Rooney for NPR

Is Santa Real? A Doubting Brother And The Gift Of A Mother's Voice

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Every year, NORAD staff and volunteers field calls from children inquiring about Santa. Canadian Brig. Gen Guy Hamel joined in the tradition in 2014. Brennan Linsley/AP hide caption

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Brennan Linsley/AP

U.S. Northern Command Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Charles D. Luckey joins volunteers taking phone calls from children during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Photo taken on Christmas Eve, 2014. Brennan Linsley/AP hide caption

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Brennan Linsley/AP

Retired American photographer Tom Haley, 66, portrays Santa during a pageant in Normandy. Eleanor Beardsley/NPR hide caption

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Eleanor Beardsley/NPR

How An American Became Santa In A Little Town In France

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First lady Nancy Reagan sits on the knee of Mr. T, dressed as Santa Claus, and gives him a peck on the head, as he joined her for a preview of the White House Christmas decor in 1983. Ira Schwarz/AP hide caption

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Ira Schwarz/AP

Jolly old Santa himself. Unpictured: the sweat, pain and — possibly? — tears that went into tracing his form on the map. Owen Delaney/Courtesy of Strava hide caption

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Owen Delaney/Courtesy of Strava

Larry Jefferson was the first black Santa Claus at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Courtesy of The Santa Experience hide caption

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Courtesy of The Santa Experience

Black Santa Claus Is A Hit At Mall Of America, But Faces An Online Backlash

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(Left to right) Actors John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, Edmund Gwenn, and young Natalie Wood stand before a Christmas tree in a still from director George Seaton's film, Miracle on 34th Street. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A trade card from the 1880s depicts a Santa Claus figure in a bird-themed sleigh pulled by reindeer as they are about the land on a rooftop to deliver presents from the huge sack of gifts. Getty Images hide caption

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Getty Images

Twain's 'Letter From Santa Claus,' A Gift For All Ages

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Col. Harry Shoup came to be known as the "Santa Colonel." He died in 2009. Courtesy of NORAD hide caption

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Courtesy of NORAD

NORAD's Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport

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Science says Santa's been tricking us with that reindeer stuff. Martti Kainulainen/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Martti Kainulainen/AFP/Getty Images