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The power of ‘the Santa incentive’

The Santa IncentiveI don’t mean to sound like a Grinch this silly season but does it feel like Christmas is seeping into the calender earlier and earlier each year?

When I spotted puddings and mince pies in our local supermarket in September I felt a line had been crossed. I can be festive with the best of them but not for an entire three months.

My husband is far less tolerant than I. As a university student he worked in a department store over the Christmas break. There he was subject to weeks on end of Christmas carols on a continuous loop. Similar techniques were reportedly been used on terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.

For him the scars are deep and lasting. Almost 25 years have passed since he last rang the till to the strains of Jingle Bells but the first few bars of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer is enough to send him into convulsions.

I was on the verge of starting a one-woman campaign to rein in the reindeers and keep Christmas snugly confined to the month of December. At the very least I wanted to outlaw any form of Christmas display until the day after Melbourne Cup.

So how did I beat the Bah Humbugs?  I inadvertently discovered the power of ‘the Santa incentive’ over my daughter.

It happened one morning recently while nagging my eldest daughter to get dressed. As usual my commands fell on deaf ears. Clutching at straws I said something like “Santa wants you to get dressed. He’ll take brownie points off you if you don’t do what I say”.

My daughter’s hearing problem made a miraculous spontaneous recovery. At the mention of the word Santa she looked up wide eyed. She’s a smart cookie and she countered with “How will Santa know?”. I put forward the explanation that has satisfied generation after generation of children. “Santa is magic and he can see what you are doing”. I even gave this classic line a digital age twist. “You know your friend Liam? He got an email from Santa that said he’d been a good boy all year but it was time to be nicer to his brother. Santa had been watching him”.

She looked truly alarmed and immediately scampered to her bedroom to get dressed. Cue a smug little head wobble from me.

Once I had stumbled across this technique I kept it going. In the following weeks the catch cry “Santa’s got his eye on you” was repeated countless times. Somehow it got put to music–specifically the tune of Limbo Rock. It even had accompanying dance moves. It must have been driving my husband balmy but for getting our daughter to follow instructions it was 100 per cent effective.

There were unintended benefits. She started volunteering to wash the dishes. I heaped praise on her and offered up pocket money for being such a helpful girl. Like all A-list actors her response was that she wasn’t in it for the money. She was in it for Santa. I told her Santa liked what he saw and my wallet remained securely zipped.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to work Santa’s magic on my younger daughter.  She stretches my sanity every morning with her obstinate refusal to get dressed. I tried the “Santa’s got his eye on you” line whilst she was stark naked and giggling at me from behind a curtain. “Silly Mummy. Santa’s not here” she chided. I guess you have to get up with the sparrows to fool her.

How much mileage are you getting from the Santa Incentive this Silly Season?

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One comment so far -

  1. I use Santa black mail all the time, particularly to get my boys to behave in public. That’s one good thing about Christmas starting early…!



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