AN INSIDE LOOK - Commentary and opinions on local politics and life in general in Southeastern Massachusetts! Featuring the writings of Bill Gouveia, newspaper columnist for the Sun Chronicle and local cable TV talk show host. Feel free to read, comment and enjoy!
Friday, December 19, 2014
The Year The Santa Alarm Had A Problem...
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on December 19, 2014.
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
once in a while an event occurs that shakes you to the core, makes you question
what you know, and threatens the life you have built.This past weekend was one of those times, and
it could possibly mean the end of an era.
period of innocence may be over.Despite
my best efforts to shield my family from the cold and cruel world, cynicism
continues that steady and deadly march as it tries to eventually overtake us
this weekend, my six-year-old grandson Will (did I mention his name is
William?) informed both me and his parents that he no longer believes in what
is undoubtedly one of the greatest Christmas traditions of all time.He’s so young to lose this now.
right folks – Will no longer believes in the existence of the Santa Alarm.
those of you unfamiliar with this great piece of American folk lore, it is
something that (as far as I know) I made up.Or at least I’m taking credit for it until someone
Santa Alarm is an extremely complicated device visible to only fathers and
grandfathers (and perhaps great-grandfathers) who have children spending the
night in their homes on Christmas Eve.I
could tell you exactly how it works, but then I’d have to…well, you know.
used it when my two boys were very small.They were so excited about getting up on Christmas morning to open
presents that they could not sleep.
them plotting together upstairs in that conspiratorial whisper kids have when
discussing the possible overthrow of parental authority.I realized they could sneak down the steps
when my wife and I were getting our scant few hours sleep. As a former
Christmas Ninja myself, I knew the drill.
had already threatened them with dire consequences should they try and sneak a
peek under the tree before receiving the “all clear” signal from us in the
morning.However, I could see in their
eyes the belief they could pull one over on the Old Man.I knew this was going to take more than just
the usual warnings.
I called them together and explained how things were now out of my hands.Santa had installed the Santa Alarm and
appointed me as guardian and operator.This is how it works:
is a super special and invisible beam of light about halfway down our
stairway.When set it immediately trips
if anyone under the age of 18 comes down the stairs.It cannot be avoided, or stepped around, or
beaten.When triggered, an alarm would
go directly to the North Pole.
elves (on standby for just such a situation) would then immediately activate
the Present Puller.This would transfer
all presents within seconds to a secure location, where they would be picked up
and distributed to needy – and less sneaky – children.By the time their feet hit the living room
floor, it would be all over.
wanted proof.I told them there was a
secret switch located in a special spot on the wall going downstairs and only
my hand could set it.I made them hide
their eyes while I turned it on (they tried hard to look).Afterwards I watched them search those walls
for hours, but they never did locate it.
worked.Fear is a great motivator.Christmas morning they rushed into our room,
pleading to go downstairs.They eyed the
steps like they were lined with thermonuclear devices, and looked away while I
shut off the alarm.
And to my
delight, my oldest has continued the use of the Santa Alarm at his home.To this point, it has been equally effective
with my oldest grandson.
But now he
is in school.He has heard stories of
other kids successfully sneaking.He
thinks this is a ruse.
can’t be 100% sure.I have shown him an
actual alarm panel in my home, yet he remains skeptical.This kid is a tough sell.
My own boys
still tell stories of the Santa Alarm at holiday gatherings.I’m hoping Will can be convinced for at least
another year or two.There are other
grandchildren involved here.
how am I going to explain all this to Santa?
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist,
father and grandfather.He can be
emailed at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at