Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa brings gifts and is a great friend for imposing discipline

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I hope you're not too sick of reading about Christmas. There are still a few days left until the shopping, cooking, travelling and stress all come to an end as we sit back in our recliners, loosen our belts and regret that extra piece of pie and helping of turkey.

Ah heck! Go for it. Santa Claus doesn't worry about it, so why should you? Unless you have a major medical reason not to do it, sometimes letting go and eating what you bloody well want to is good for the soul - at least for a day. Just don't go overboard to the point of illness or other related havoc.

After all, I don't think it says anywhere in the Bible that, "Thou shalt honour the birth of Jesus by making yourself sick." I'm certainly no biblical scholar, but somehow I doubt that even the Book of Brian (the shortest and most heathenistic of all the books of the Bible, I can assure you) promotes hurting yourself at Christmas to properly celebrate the birth of the Jesus.

Can you imagine what the three wise men travelling through the desert and following the Star of Bethlehem would have said had they thought some Christmas celebrations 2,000 years from then would have disintegrated into the messes we see these days?

If the Second Coming were happening right now and those three wise men were following a star to a baby in a manger wearing a halo, instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh, they would have to bring painkillers, antacids and a treadmill to help everyone get over the holiday merriment that has taken over society.

Oh, I'm just as bad as everyone else, I can assure you. I can't remember the last time I went to church at Christmas. I know, I should really hang my head in shame. Christmas is still a religious holiday and it's only right that we take an hour out of all the hoopla to remember the "reason for the season," as they say. The thing is, I always loved Christmas church services, but there are so many people packed in to the pews that it's too hot and too uncomfortable to enjoy it these days.

Then again, if there was actually room to sit comfortably at a Christmas service, I'd be ranting about the fact that no one goes to church anymore. It's terrible being a hypocrite, I tell ya. So exhausting.

Besides, to get a decent seat at most holiday church services, you have to pretty much show up at Easter and put up a tent. Kind of embarrassing when you have to convince passersby that you're not homeless, though. "No no . . . Thanks for the quarter in my empty Tim Hortons cup, but I'm actually just waiting in line for church on Christmas Eve. Yeah, I know it's only April. I want a good seat up front . . . not stuck in back next to the crying kids who wanted to go home to bed to wait for Santa."

This week also marks the end of the best disciplinary tool that parents have all year round. You know what I mean . . . the threat that Santa Claus is watching you and won't bring you any presents if you don't behave. This argument worked on me for a long time until I figured out that I could still start fighting with my brother and sister again as soon as my parents had helped Santa by wrapping all the gifts he would be leaving under the tree.

I figured this out, of course, because Santa always seemed to use the same wrapping paper as the paper used to wrap the gifts given by my parents. You can't fool me, let me tell ya. I have a mind like a steel trap. I figured out that Santa was just too darn busy to wrap his own gifts and had to ask for some help. Lucky for me, I had parents who were only too happy to oblige.

After Christmas Day, however, the Santa Claus threat pretty much goes out of the window until parents can start using it again starting at some point in the fall - usually after Halloween.

The Easter Bunny doesn't exactly have the same gravitas as Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy's loonie or toonie under your pillow doesn't really hold much water either.

And I doubt that telling your kids that Cupid will shoot them in the arm with an arrow on Valentine's Day if they misbehave is effective. Most kids hate needles, so if they can avoid getting shot by an entire arrow by misbehaving, I'm pretty sure they'll try to burn down your house. Hide the matches!

And scaring the kids into behaving at Halloween could backfire into weeks and months of sleepless night worrying about ghosts and vampires coming to kidnap and eat them in the middle of the night. Unless you want to wake up to the blood-curdling screams of terrified children at 3 a.m., it's best to leave them to chow down on their Halloween candy; leave well enough alone.

Yep, when it comes to keeping children in line, Santa Claus is one of the more effective tools in a parent's arsenal, but sadly that tool will need to be put away in a drawer for another year in a few days.

Parents will have to resort to the tried-and-true time out. Maybe a stern look or two. Or perhaps a good old-fashioned talking-to! They say 60 is the new 50 . . . and that 50 is the new 40. Well, Santa is the new strap. He's the new whoopin'. The new hickory switch, so to speak. Dec. 26 is not only Boxing Day, it's also the day when parents have to start doing their own disciplinarian dirty work again. Santa is on vacation!

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