I do not have children, but I have answers. As a public service I have decided to dig into the backlog of questions that my friends are too exhausted to answer, and fill the gaps in their children’s knowledge . Each parent emailed me a list of queries and promised to read my response to their children in full, without editorial interference. I do not believe in speaking down to children, so some of the terms and concepts may go over their heads, but I’m confident that the essential truth will make its way through.
Why does Santa care if children are good or bad? I know it’s magic and that’s why he knows everything and can bring stuff everywhere, but why spy on everyone and then bring a toy to the good ones? What does he get out of it? If it’s his job then who is his boss?
Micheal, age 11
I tried googling an answer but I found mostly self published erotic fiction. I’d direct you to the novella to suss out any hidden information but I feel like I am already skirting the edge of several child protection laws. So, while I am bit light on primary sources, I can at least lay out what we don’t know and work backward from there:
What is the standard for Good vs Bad? Are we to assume a binary pass fail condition, or a threshold system where-in one needs to stay below a certain level of cumulative infraction?
Given his obsessive list making, ritualistic delivery schedule, and troubling lack of wardrobe variety, it’s safe to assume that Saint Nick observes a rigid code of behavior, with no room for subjective allowance. The Judge Dredd of generosity, if you will. The specifics of his code are blurry, but it seems largely centered around finishing ones supper, bed time without fuss, and maintaining a high standard of civility in all situations. Sorry Crackhouse Billy, I know you only swore because “Uncle” Ten Bucks tossed a lit cigarette at you, but naughty is naughty.
Why has he taken it upon himself to spy on children and reward their good behavior? And why are we okay with this?
Imagine returning home from a long shift at the auto-plant to find me, clad in a weird fur outfit, seated at your kitchen table. Between us are a stack of video surveillance tapes and a small manila envelope filled with cash. The video are labelled : Jimmy being a good boy at the dentist, Hustling hard in gym class, Timely tub time with toes washed proper, and Brushing grandma’s hair. How much money would there have to be in that envelope to justify my constant observation of your child? A lot, right?
So why do your parents concede this for a forty dollar toy? Because it is not about the toy, it’s about the intel. With no effort on their part they get a yearly litmus test of your good behavior that they can then use your judge your worth as a child and future prospects.
Who is his boss?
Every fool that wrote a letter, baked a cookie, and sang a hymn to his ever watching eyes. No one asked Charles McCarthy to make his list, but we allowed it because it made things easier and we didn’t want to be included. Doubt any man that promises you gifts while claiming perfect moral clarity, the cost is always higher than it seems.