11 December, 2013

Santa's Choice

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Okay! Great news, but here's the problem. He's always making lists, and then he's checking them. Twice! I guess he's going to find out who's naughty and nice. Yeah, that's the ticket. The one thing that is absolutely certain is that Santa Claus IS coming to town, and we should all be getting increasingly excited.

You've all heard that song, but what's it all about?! Why do we feel the need to threaten children? Shouldn't we just let children be children?

I guess not. Look at what we tell them. "He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good ... " My word! I don't care what color your state is, that qualifies as stalking, and if the thought of it scares me in my 60s, what on earth does it do to children!?

Not much, I fear. It certainly never had much of an impact on me as a child. Given some of my stunts, I amazed he ever stopped at my house at all - even to drop off some coal. Much of my pre-school years were spent in a nice but modest neighborhood in Norfolk, Virginia - small homes with single car garages on a pretty street lined on both sides with Crape Myrtle trees. Let me mention just a few escapades.

There was the time my parents couldn't find me. I was in the neighbor's garage. Evidently I had decided to paint it - the inside of it. Somehow I opened a can of paint, took a brush, and began to upgrade their garage. I should note, by the way, that their car was in the garage with me. What everyone was thankful for was that I never turned around and started painting the car.
Just how a four-year-old got that can of paint open is still a mystery.

Then there was the time I watched the neighbors on our other side go out their front door. As they walked out, I walked in. Harmless enough, right? Well, it might have been if I hadn't locked the door. Now I can't get out, and they can't get in. Everyone is trying not to get me excited or make me cry, but at the same time they are talking through the door and windows to me, trying to encourage me or tell me how to unlock the door. Just before folks were about ready to give up and break in, I somehow managed to unlock it - genius that I am.

Long before I grew up to be a housepainter and locksmith, I must have wanted to be an electrician. That's why I stuck the hairpin in the wall outlet and burned my chubby little fingers. Mom says when I subsequently crawled through that room, I would stay as far away from that outlet as one could. On the other hand, I did do it again - which may explain a lot.

Of course, I had a brother, older by four and a half years, whom I loved to torment. I'll save the details for another post, but let's just say I was very good at it. Call me the RingMaster. As Broadway Joe used to say, "If you're not going to go all the way, why go at all?" By the way, this is the only one of these of which I have any memory, but I've heard the stories. I was ... well ... let's call me a busy child.

My favorite caper was the time I decided I wanted to be a newspaper delivery boy. Doesn't everyone? I took my little wagon - red Radio-Flyer - filled it with all of the old newspapers that were in our garage. I guess I rolled them up too, and then I began delivering them around the neighborhood. Hey! I was green before green was cool. Recycle that newsprint, Thomas-magamus-magooch - as my mother sometimes called me.
I'm just saying, "Santa always came. Anyway." Maybe he gives us a little leeway. Maybe he has a choice - sort of like sentencing guidelines. Maybe I wasn't naughty enough to result in sanctions. I don't know, but I just don't see why we continue to threaten the children. After all, I turned out okay.

Stop snickering.