Robert L. DilenschneiderRobert L. Dilenschneider

We have a lot to be grateful for this Holiday Season—a booming economy, serious job opportunities for many, a positive horizon and much more.

Are there problems and issues?  Sure.

More than 250,000 members of our Armed Forces are deployed around the world protecting America's interests and security. Terrorism remains a major threat, including here in the U.S. And the sexual harassment scandals seem to have no end.

But on balance our lives are good.

As we move through the Holiday Season, here are some historical facts that may be of interest, and which you might like to share with those close to you.

•4th century: Saint Nicholas of Myra (modern-day Turkey) is a bishop famous for throwing a bag of gold through a window to three poor sisters. The day of his death, December 6, is still celebrated as Saint Nicholas Day in Armenia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries.

•17th to 18th centuries: English children learn the Dutch tradition of setting out wooden shoes in which Sinterklaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas, later Anglicized as Santa Claus) leaves presents. They also hear of Christkindl, the German gift-bearing angel.

•19th century: Santa commands a flying sleigh (Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker’s History of New York), slides down chimneys (Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas), and monitors kids from the North Pole (Thomas Nast’s Harper’s Weekly cartoons). The first department store Santa appears in Philadelphia.

•1912: The U.S. Postal Service provides an address for Christmas wish lists:  “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska.”

•1958: The North American Aerospace Defense Command sets up a “Santa cam” to track the Christmas Eve ride.

•2016: In New York City alone, the number of letters to Santa that arrive at the post office is about half a million.

•Expect an estimated $22.7 billion in retail sales by the nation’s department stores, a decrease in $1 billion from December of the previous year.

•Look for more than $61 billion in retail sales via online shopping and mail-order houses.

•About 572 locations produce dolls, toys and games. California leads the nation in this category.

Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season and a 2018 that is special for you and all those you are close to.

***

Robert L. Dilenschneider is founder and chairman of The Dilenschneider Group, a global public relations and communications consulting firm headquartered in New York City. The former CEO of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., he is also author of more than a dozen books, including the best-selling “Power and Influence.”