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December 14, 2013

As Time Goes By: How to find out if you're naughty or nice

The Daily Star

---- — “You better watch out, you better not pout,” the fat man in the red suit is giving a shout!

Very early on in my childhood I learned all the “Santa Claus” signals — the biggest threat being the dreaded lump of coal. If you got one in your stocking it meant you were on the short list of getting nothing for Christmas.

The dreaded lump of coal also gave you a reprieve — by being holier than an angel, you just might find redemption and get something under the tree.

Sure, it was emotional blackmail that worked for my parents and in my time worked for me with my children. However, my threat had to be prefaced with a lesson on what a lump of coal was.

How are you stacking up? How do you know where you are in the pecking order — fantastic Christmas presents or are you going to be so-so? For an answer, I turned to the “Close Cover before Striking School of Naughty or Nice.” (CCBSSNN)

You know you have been naughty when there is frost on your morning’s cup of coffee.

You know you have been nice when you find a “smiley face” written in the mist on the mirror of the bathroom vanity after you put down the seat on the toilet.

You know you have been naughty when you wake in the morning and your spouse says “You were talking in your sleep last night,” and after a pause she asks, “Who is Alice?”

You know you have been nice when you assist someone older than you across the street. (Walker to walker.)

You know you have been naughty when everybody stops talking at once to stare at you.

You know you were naughty when you get the licking of your life for plunking your sister in her butt with the B.B. gun. (Even if she really deserved it.)

You know you have been nice when your mom bakes an extra lemon meringue pie “just for you.”

You know that you have been naughty when you find that the cat has eaten half your pie and you try to run her over with the tractor but only get a pitchfork stuck in one of the big tires, causing a leak, a loss of salt water, and an expensive repair bill. (Father was not happy.)

Sometimes you are naughty and you have no clue why. You know you are naughty when your toast is burned beyond recognition, your eggs runny, and your coffee salty. Afterwards you ask, “Did I do something wrong?” If your mate is mute and just shakes her head “no,” just accept you are guilty. Whatever you do, do not ask “What did I do?”

You know you have been naughty when halfway through the night you wake and all your covers are gone.

You know that you’ve been nice when you wake on a snow day and find your wife has shoveled the driveway.

You know that you’ve been naughty when on a snow day you find that you are sleeping with a snow shovel and again all your covers are gone.

You know you have been naughty when there is no hot water left for your shower and when you finish your cold water shower you haven’t any towel.

You know that you’ve been nice when your wife goes out and warms up the car on an ice cold day.

You know that you’ve been nice when you have nothing to confess at the church’s yearly reconciliation service.

You know that you’ve been naughty if you are still in the confessional two hours after everyone else has left.

You know you have been naughty when you wake up and find your false teeth super-glued to your backside.

Being naughty is not filling up the gas tank when you are driving on empty.

There are those who will claim that they were confused about being naughty or nice and will request exemption from getting a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking. (They will claim that not knowing is a legal excuse, because it works with politicians.)

If you are being naughty, you must understand that you are running outside the boundary of the “music of the spheres.” Being in this disharmony state will result in a multitude of mishaps including but not limited to losing one sock of your favorite socks in the laundry or dryer.

Another indicator is that you will start dropping things like forks and knives and maybe a hair dryer or an electric toothbrush. (If you are taking a bath, it would be wise not to bring anything electric into the tub with you. If you do, you may have a shocking experience.)

How do you get into the “nice all the time” groove?

I have it on good authority that being nice starts with a smile. When you wake up, think of something funny and hold that thought all day.

Another thing is to get dressed up in your Sunday clothes even if it isn’t Sunday because as they sing in “Hello, Dolly,” there is “no blue Monday when you are in your Sunday clothes.” (Don’t forget to get your picture took.)

As time goes by, don’t think of yourself, but think what you could do for others. It’s a nice feeling.

Being in harmony with life around you will guarantee so much fun you will find it difficult to believe.

Being nice guarantees no coal in your stocking.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by email at ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at