Health And Family

Santa and the Seven Deadly Sins

MIDLIFERY - Twink Macaraeg -

Our youngest, Juancho, was showing us his handmade card to Santa Claus. It was prefaced by a maze that, if jolly old St. Nicholas were to solve, would lead to a pizza decorated with hearts and stars. That was followed by an appeal  replete with misspellings but devoid of punctuation  that Poy and I deciphered to be a confession about what Juancho considered his most grievous misdeeds  lying about not brushing his teeth and using the “U” word (hint: it’s something of a Tagalog onomatopoeia) at the dining table. The penitent boy then vowed to reform, if only Santa would oblige his request for the thing he desired most  a Scan-To-Go Car. This missive concludes with the word PLLEEEEAZE written in a different Pentel color for emphasis.

Do you know what a Scan-To-Go Car is? It’s a toy vehicle that runs by swiping a plastic card through a slot. I was aghast at the design’s blatant conditioning for a future of reckless consumption. Poy was equally upset but for different reasons: Had Juancho read the fine print on finance charges? Did he bother to check if points could be converted into frequent flyer miles?   

It was one of those rare occasions that my hubby and I agreed that serious intervention was called for. We wouldn’t yet burst the existential Santa bubble, but we felt it important to impart that moral and ethical behavior was more complex than the false dichotomy between naughty and nice. 

It was one of those even rarer occasions when Poy volunteered to handle a disciplining matter, so I let him take the lead. Now, I don’t know where-the-hell he took his inspiration  maybe something as capricious as Juancho’s age  but Poy sat our boy down, looked him square in the eye until a heavy silence bore down on us all, then asked with all the solemnity of someone officiating at a hazing: “Do you know what the Seven Deadly Sins are, Chocho?”

I nearly upchucked my white wine and Caesar’s salad lunch. Why did this guidepost moment take this absurd turn? Having no confidence in my husband’s grasp of biblical lessons, I expected him to follow up his query with “please tell me cos I don’t,” when Juancho piped up, “Calling someone the S word?”

He meant “Stupid.” Which we’d never actually expressly forbidden Juancho to use because I call myself that whenever caught off guard in badminton by a dropshot from an opponent who does nothing but dropshot. Poy regularly yells it at the TV while watching the local news (though he prefers more evocative compound words like dumba%&# and dickw&*%). Still Poy was on a free association mood, so he ran with it.

“The S word is Sloth, Juancho. It means laziness. Worse than picking your nose, SANTA DOES NOT LIKE SLOTH!” my husband pronounced, grandly.

“Is that like when Mommy calls you a slug or a couch potato?”

My Honibuns replied in one breath, the non sequiturs flying fast and furious, “I’ve earned two BAs and a masters from a university ranked in the Top 50 of US News & World Report, set up offices throughout the region, survived two economic downturns, worked  no, slaved  at these LGU consultancies where nobody listens to me but which still force me to guest on TV shows where I have to speak in Tagalog, written scholarly books  signed copies of which will fetch a few hundred dollars on the Philippines equivalent of Pawn Stars maybe 10 years from now  and sent you and your Kuya to the best schools plus bi-monthly stays at posh hotels with buffets galore which I never experienced because even at 16 when I was traveling through Europe as a bamboo clapper for the Filipiniana Dance Troupe I had only two Bruce Lee jogging suits, in which I would hoard bread and cheese for the whole journey. Do you know who Bruce Lee is, boy? Let’s watch that movie where he battled and won against someone two feet taller than him. Do you know who Kareem Abdul Jabbar is, boy? I’ll show you one of these days when Mommy lets me enjoy reruns of old NBA games  even the ones where they still wear short shorts and knee socks  because the 2012 season’s been delayed by CBA negotiations and I DESERVE to watch what I want to watch, gadamet!”

At such moments a woman instinctively knows to keep her mouth shut. I’m convinced that when La Giaconda was sitting for her portrait, she was also listening to her husband blow off some macho steam while Da Vinci flashed her the occasional look of sympathy.

“You know the next deadly sin, Juancho? Gluttony! It’s another word for greed. Stuffing yourself with food that you don’t need.”

My mind raced for an answer in case Juancho should notice that the classic corpulent Claus is hardly the picture of spartan self-restraint. I prepared something along the lines of fat being needed as insulation on the North Pole, but Juancho appeared lost in the grim imagery Poy was creating, “Gluttony is eating lasagna and lechon and Chicken Joy and turkey and pancit and paella and fruit salad while poor people go hungry, so they just sniff nasty fumes from a glue called Rugby, not the sport.” 

Juancho came up with two examples to show he understood, “Like the time when you told Mommy not to drink the third glass of champagne, but she did, and when she ate the fifth Sylvanna which she said was nothing but air, but was?”

“Aha! Avarice!” I piped up. That moment, naturally, being the perfect time to segue between one type of greed and the other (which, after all, had a more direct bearing on the cautionary lesson on acquisitiveness which had started off this whole affair).

But try as we might, Juancho still understood Avarice to be the character he created to embody what he considered his most dashing qualities in WII. Or the title of that 3D movie with all these long-necked blue creatures astride dragons.

Even worse than that sorry spectacle: Father trying to explain to prepubescent Son the concept of Lust. After many awkward tries, Poy let that go as a feeling boys get when you ask a pretty saleslady how to get to the men’s room, but she gives you wrong directions because she didn’t get a good education.

Wrath, which Poy translated as VERY, VERY, VERY ANGRY had Juancho regaling us with a demonstration of the various squawks, snorts, and snickers featured in the I-pad game involving cannonball chickens, ricocheting toucans, and exploding pigs.

I helpfully shared that I’d hear a recently-minted Monsignor warn against gifting children with Angry Birds, as the game sent an inappropriate message during the Holy Season of Hope. Poy promptly erupted with another tirade, Juancho berating him, “The S word, Papu. Don’t use the S word!”

Envy and pride, we assumed Juancho already knew. So I asked him to use them each in a sentence that illustrated their meaning. He responded thusly:

“I felt Envy because Patrick’s parents gave him a Scan-To-Go car. But they’re always away and they just leave Patrick with his yayas. So I don’t feel Envy, anymore. Instead I feel Pride, because I have the best parents in the world!”

At that point, it occurred to Poy and me that we should be practicing Juancho’s Arithmetic skills rather than dwelling on mere semantics. Poy offered to teach him to play Blackjack, I offered to deal, and that was the end of our lesson on the Seven Deadly Sins.

As a postscript though, I need to mention that Juancho got for Christmas, not just a Scan-To-Go Car but a 4x4 Scan-To-Go Track. Neither of them from Santa Claus.

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