This is the time of year when all parents have an ally in establishing their authority. I speak of course of the mysterious and ancient Northman in his scarlet wizard’s cap who descends upon us flying through the skies from his cold and barren keep in the land of eternal night. He arrives swiftly and unseen; no barrier, no bolt or lock can hinder him in his mission to dispense justice. If you are good, you get rewarded, but if you are bad – you will be given a token of your sins – a chuck of black anthracite of a bundle of dry tree limbs! Beware these symbols for “they do convict ye of your sins!”
Do not doubt it! The ancient texts confirm it. They are ominous and fearful in their apocalyptic warning: “O, you had better watch out! O, you had better not cry! You had better not pout, and I am telling you why! Santa Claus is coming to town. He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you are awake, he knows when you are bad or good so be good for goodness sake!”
These are the pleading words of the old prophet Gene Autry imploring children to correct their ways before the night time approach of the wizened agent of justice; this annual judge who rains down blessings and curses. The first words of the text describe it: “You had better watch out!”
In March or July warning a child that Santa is watching just does not carry much weight. Yet in December the threat of his arrival can leverage good behavior. I still get chills when I recall my grandmother warning us that if we did not immediately improve our behavior then we could be certain that the long-bearded, red-vested, obese arbiter of vengeance would deliver us a bag of switches and cornbread. (I never quite understood the cornbread part).