by Jan Kaneen

Strange how cultures twist the myth into their own image, but whatever peg they hang it on: Christmas, Yule, Saturnalia, it is always a mirror.

The opposite is true with me.

Seems like only yesterday that goodly folk bolted their doors against me. I was a terrible stranger from the blackest shadows, a dark hunter that stalked the longest night. Now, they invite me in; tell their children to be good, so I will pay them a visit.

Work hard at school, they say, respect your elders, eat your greens; and the children, obedient to the season; ho-ho-hoping that bells will jingle and I will come a-calling, send me letters, write me lists.

How I love those lists.

Once the trees have cast away their colours, and winter skies are dark and pale, I read them, every one. Dear Santa, they say, I’ve been good all year – can I have, I really want, oh please, please, please. They sign their names, so the right reward might find the right child.

Strange, that reason and learning has lifted so many veils, and yet they see me not for what I truly am. Has their newfound power over darkness deluded them; the Christmas lights made them blind? Whatever the reason, they call me old Nick no longer; think they have blunted my claws. But my nature remains unchanged.

When your little darlings scribble their wishes, my real name is always there, hidden in full view and – blood or no blood – a deal is still a deal.

Did you really think it safe, to let your children want so much; to lead them so far into temptation?

You tell them to be good, but you don’t know what good is. I almost feel sorry for them, poor sold souls.