Santa Claus was always good to me as a child. He brought me some awesome toys over the years, and I didn’t even really deserve most of them. I never set out cookies for him or left hay outside for his reindeer, or any of that stuff a grateful kid would have done. My older siblings had done those things, and I kind of just rode on the coattails of the good will they built up with jolly old Saint Nick.
The only time I ever had reason to feel let down by Santa was not Santa’s fault. It was a cruel joke played upon me by my older brothers. They had replaced all the goodies in my Christmas stocking with a single onion before I woke up on Christmas morning. I was very likely scarred for life by this incident, but they got a good laugh out of it, so it must have been the right thing to do.
Then I got too old for Santa Claus, and Christmases started to run together. Before I knew it, tens of Christmases had flown by. That’s what happens when Santa isn’t there to give each one its special magic.
Now, I have a three-year-old son, and Santa Claus is suddenly back in my life. The odd thing is that I think I like Santa now more than I ever did before. This is the first year when my son is putting together all the relationships between Christmas and Santa, and most importantly, presents. This is a wonderful development because it has turned Santa into a huge parenting ally of mine.
My son is in awe of Santa’s immense powers, which gives him a bit of a fear of the man himself. This is as it should be. The boy is afraid to sit on Santa’s lap, and even shy about writing a letter to the All Powerful One with a list of toys he’d like to have. He’s modest about asking Santa for presents; on the other hand, if Santa is determined to bring them, well, that’s Santa’s business. Indeed, anything that might encourage Santa to bring presents, short of outright asking for them, is all to the good. This is all the rope I need to use Santa as a means of manipulation in pursuit of my iron fist policy of fathering.
It is well known that there are things a boy can do to dispose Santa toward bringing him some top-flight toys. A boy can do what his father asks him to do, without putting up a stink; he can refrain from throwing tantrums in public; he can pick up his blocks when he’s done playing with them; he can go to bed at bedtime; and he can quit punching Dad in the crotch because he thought it was hilarious when he saw a bad kid do it on America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Santa appreciates all these examples of good behavior. Moreover, Santa has eyes on the ground all over the world. He sees every misbehavior and he keeps meticulous notes. For every tantrum, a toy gets shifted away into the column of some good kid in Bolivia. For every punch in the crotch, two toys go. That’s just the way it is; you can’t fight it, so you’d might better go to bed extra early to avoid the temptation to be bad.
Every child knows these things, none better than my son. Under my careful tutelage, my son is learning perfectly the math behind the ledger of Santa’s accounts. During the months of November and December, no opportunity will be lost to teach him the toy-value-consequence of every misdeed I see forming itself up in his shifty little eyes. I love Santa more than I ever did before. I may even bake him some cookies this year. Sorry reindeer, I don’t have a recipe for hay.
Some people may believe that this use of Santa to regulate a child’s behavior is an abuse of parental power or cruelty toward the innocent child. To these people I say two things. First: you haven’t been punched in the crotch lately, have you? Second: by January, Santa’s influence will have faded to the point of no longer being a useful tool. At that point, we will return to our normal regimen of spankings to keep the kid in line – like the good parents do.