Elf Ed ZacharyNorth Pole

Playing Head Games with Santa

Santa knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake.

Pretty scary, huh?

But what’s the big deal? A really good cat burglar can know the same thing about you. What’s worse is that he knows if you’ve been bad or good.

Think about that: he knows.

The very thought kind of gives me the creeps. And I’m an elf one who is considered a superior citizen if there ever was one. The all-seeing Santa was one I never contemplated much as a kid until I became the kind of kid my mother always told me not to become. Then I felt like I had Santa over my shoulder all the time.

Ever wonder where George Orwell got the idea for “Big Brother”? Perhaps he was kept up nights by an oversized Jiminy Crickett dressed in red too. Or, it might have been that he was singing too many Christmas songs.

~ Awake or Asleep ~

It would be a lot tougher to figure out if people are awake or asleep if we weren’t such simple creatures. Put an alligator in front of Santa and he couldn’t tell if it was awake or not. (Unless it was really awake.) But people are a different story. Santa knows people like he knows the backside of each reindeer.

First off, if it’s after midnight on Christmas Eve, most of you are asleep. Those who aren’t have that sickly blue light of television shining through your windows. Santa simply hits the dark houses first.

After the soft touches that went to bed early are taken care of, Santa back tracks to the ones he skipped. If the TV is off, he makes his stop. If not, there is a 50-50 chance it’s someone who fell asleep (passed out from a “secret” eggnog recipe, more likely) in front of the idiot box.

In the case of those die hard, caffeine addled, pasty faced, “I don’t have to get up until 11:00 Christmas Day”, late night infomercial people — Santa just walks in. It’s true. He’s a guy who can move really quietly when he wants to. Plus, these people generally have no idea what’s going on around them.

In fact, I can only think of one instance when Santa nearly got caught by a night-owl type. This guy actually saw Santa reflected in the TV screen. The poor fellow just about died of shock. I mean Santa just about died — not The Worlds Biggest Dukes of Hazard fan. TV Boy just thought it was a weird episode with Boss Hog in a red suit instead of a white one.

And then, of course, there’s the ongoing saga of the citizens of Peabody, Maine. For years, every Christmas Eve, the folks in that little town band together to not only catch Santa in the act of being Santa, but to just catch him.

No offense to anybody who lives there — but such ideas are sheer lunacy. I keep thinking the people of Peabody will figure that out but every year it’s the same thing. We even have staff meetings each year before Santa takes flight to talk about the Peabody plan. I don’t know why they want Santa for their Christmas party, I guess but why can’t they just rent a Santa like the rest of us?

It’s no wonder that Santa has developed the intelligence gathering capabilities of a simple cat burglar. There’s too many nuts out there to worry about when they are all awake.

~ Naughty or Nice ~

All the hullaballoo recently here at the North Pole about the Naughty list makes me laugh. Everyone has their red undies in a bunch because there’s a growing list of kids that are never going to qualify for the Supreme Court who are popping up on this phantom list.

Whoop-de-freaking-doo. I get mailboxes full of junk that I don’t want just because I ended up on someone’s list.

Besides and you didn’t hear me say this but I think being naughty has it’s merits. It shows creativity and guts.

(This argument didn’t work on my mother and it probably won’t work with Santa either. I’m just kidding, really. I am reformed. Honest. Trust me.)

It’s just that the naughty question is a little bit tougher to comprehend. I mean, what is naughty?

According to some catalogs that Mrs. Claus gets it’s sometimes nice to be naughty. How do we know where to draw the line? We live in subjective times. Stuff your grandfather thought was abhorrent, your friends find totally normal. Who’s right? And who is this big guy living with a bunch of elves on a compound in the frozen waste to judge you?

Not everyone can be the Pope or even Martha Stewart. Just how does one determine whether or not you are good enough for a visit from Santa? I tell you right now Santa’s banking on the fact that every believer in the world struggles over the question of what naughty is and just how far they have to go to avoid it. Call it Santa psychology.

Determining who is naughty seems like an impossible task — simplified by one fact. If you are an adult you’ve made certain…um, compromises. Adjustments to your beliefs, perhaps. Or even outright disbelief in Santa Claus, God, or even humanity. I don’t know if that’s particularly naughty, but it’s very bad. That’s why Santa is forced to ignore most of the fully-grown people. They debunk the psychology in exchange for general naughtiness because the cynical sides of them selves just cannot account for how Santa can possibly know.

Children are much easier. They are innocent for one thing: they are incapable of actual malice. They may do something wrong, but it isn’t necessarily “bad” or “naughty”. The other big factor with kids is when they do act with harmful intent, it’s usually some adult’s fault. Here’s a good rule to remember: if you are under 10 years old and you’ve never been on the news with hand cuffs on, Santa will most likely be visiting you.

A couple of years ago, when Ernest published via the North Pole updates the bit of news that not all of Santa’s elves reside at the North Pole, people got a little upset by that. Do you know who those people were? They were the naughty people. They were people who worry about being seen doing something they should not do. It was widely circulated that these were not elves in Santa’s employ for anything other than to serve as members of Santa’s Secret Spies.

Well, Ernest exposed that for a lie. And I can tell you right now, no elf of Santa’s could ever be a spy. Ever. It’s just not in us. We’re shy by nature, we tend to love just about everyone, and we couldn’t find our way out of a paper bag. If Santa does have a secret spy network of elves, they aren’t very effective.

If you’re still not sure how Santa can tell from so far away just exactly what you’re up to consider this: During the cold war the U.S. and Soviet Union built the two most extensive systems of radar receivers ever conceived. Guess where? That’s right, they’re both in the high arctic. It’s not really that big a deal to make a few adjustments to the sorts of signals they receive, point them in a slightly different direction, and get the worlds largest, most sophisticated and only Naughty Detector.

But does it really matter, folks? If you’re concerned about whether or not you’re too naughty for Santa’s taste then chances are you are not. It’s the unconcerned that concerns Santa. And besides, if there’s one thing Santa has taught this elf, it’s that Christmas is the season of forgiveness.

Put that on a list.

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