THIS isn’t supposed to happen.
I’ve been good! On balance, anyway.
I was expecting a sock full of festive treats and all I’ve got is the flu.
True, there’s still 18 hours to go, but no matter what I get in my sock I’ll still have the bloody flu.
It was so much simpler when I was a kid. Being good enough to con Santa into bringing you a bike involved no more than one week of putting your toys away, or not throwing things at your mother.
“Santa’s fairies will be watching,” she said. “And if you’re not good he’ll bring you a lump of coal.”
Santa’s fairies were useless. If they’d been on the ball I’d have received enough coal to keep China in energy for 25 years.
Even then I had this sneaking suspicion that the patron saint of children was pretty gullible if he was prepared to base a whole year’s performance on one week of goodness — and even that was only goodness enforced by dire threats.
Didn’t he know that in July I shoved my sister down the stairs? Didn’t he realise it was I who rode through my mum’s daffodils in March?
The answer’s probably yes, and he didn’t care because he knew he’d get you when you grew up, when he’d send his little fairies out with packets of plague and botulism, and influenza virulent enough to fell a herd of wildebeest.
It makes you think. And as I lie here, hanging on by torn nails to the last vestiges of life, what it makes me think is: Actually, I haven’t been good!
Well, not that good. Not good enough to avoid a couple of lumps of second-grade nutty slack in the toe of an ankle sock.
If I’m really honest (does honesty count as being good; or is it just the standard expectation?) then my performance over the past 12 months has been pretty average.
Pretty average — at best!
I could have tried harder. I should have tried harder. All year.
Hands up if you’ve been good. And no cheating. Honesty might not earn you any credit points but I’m certain dishonesty is a straight drop into the red.
My guess is that most of us would have to own up to mediocrity in the goodness stakes. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe Santa operates on a relative scale and those who have been better than average will get a Volvo, or the woman of their dreams (of course, whether you actually want the woman of your dreams depends on the kind of dreams you have).
Then there’s the issue of cultural interpretation. ‘Good’ in Australia is a whole lot different to ‘good’ in England.
In Australia everyone is good. Go to any shopping mall.
Stop someone. Anyone.
Ask them a question. Any question. The first thing they’ll say is ‘good’.
What are Santa’s fairies going to make of that, without an Australian-English dictionary? They’ll think they’ve stumbled into a heaven.
Until they get to Cronulla, that is.
But I don’t think Santa’s fairies are lacking in insight. Not unless he uses new ones every year.
I think they’re a bit like policemen or tax officials, and they overlook minor infringements as being merely the ordinary frailty of human nature.
In which case I am truly baffled. I don’t recall doing anything that bad in the past year.
I was hoping to wake up tomorrow with at least a train set. Now I’ll be grateful if I just wake up.
I’m going back to bed. I hear Santa won’t come at all unless you’re asleep.
And in case I don’t get another chance: Happy Christmas!